While riding my stationary bike the other day, I was playing a CD of Barbra Streisand. She was singing a song called "Being at War With Each Other". It went like this:
Everyone comes from one father, one mother
So why do we complicate our lives so much
By being at war with each other?
Mmm...maybe I'm crazy but I don't understand it
Why do we seem to vote to dig more holes
It's such a waste of a planet
There must be a reason that I can't see
Maybe somebody else now knows better than me....
I'm pumping the pedals, trying to get lost for 20 minutes while I engage in this minimal bid for exercise that seems so hard for me. And I'm actually listening to the words this time. If you are able to ignore her politics long enough to bathe your ears with her torch song mode and strong convincing voice, it yields such auditory pleasure. But this time I'm actually listening to the words, and I say--almost out loud--Hey, Barbra, I know the answer to that one! You're not going to believe it, but God has actually given us an answer in the Bible. In fact the brokenness of human nature is one of the major themes of Scripture.
And then it occurs to me that my pagan culture does see the problem, but they are terrified to admit it. We are all broken, and only the original Manufacturer is able to repair us. And that is the story line of the entire Bible. Part of that broken condition is the stubborn refusal to repent and cry out to God for help. Like a foolish toddler with a kitchen knife, we'd rather do it ourselves. So we go to 12 step programs, or to psychiatrists, or to the local pub and seek solutions. Hundreds of dollars and years later we have only discovered there are a lot of other broken people out there to join us in our misery.
The Bible teaches us that human misery and human sin are related as cause and effect. When we declare independence from our Maker, and kid ourselves that we can make it on our own, we become "square pegs" and it hurts when we try to fit square pegs into round holes (the world as originally designed by God). But the problem is so much more than the logistics of square pegs and round holes. There is a moral dimension.
We are not just "broken" but instead we are rebels against the holy God who made us and all things. We find ourselves hating Him because He will not let reality revolve around our personal interests. He wants us to be holy, loving and helpful. We want pleasure, attention and wealth. We want to be god. And that was exactly the sin committed by Adam and Eve. Yes, we all come from one father and mother, and that is only part of the problem. They passed on to us those perverted chromosomes, and we are guilty, hellbent, broken sinners.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love toward us has made us alive together with Christ, and raised us up and seated us together with Christ in heavenly places. By grace you are saved. This is the heavenly position that is given to everyone who turns from his sin, and asks God to forgive him for Jesus' sake.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Over the years date night has been important for us to cultivate our marriage. Besides that, Barbara is really my best friend, and it's just plain fun to be together. Okay, before you puke over this drippy sentimentalism, I want to share with you one of our special date nights. It must have been on or about our 15th anniversary. Our plans were not very imaginative: dinner and a movie. But God's plans injected a little tragedy/humor that made it a little more memorable. (Otherwise it might have been lost in my deteriorating synapses.) We were in Wilmington, Delaware, and the weather was threatening. Actually there was steady drizzle, though not a true eastern rain. The kids were safely in the charge of a trusted baby-sitter, and we were on the road, when suddenly our car sounded like an airplane. The muffler popped loose from the exhaust pipe. If that has never happened to you, I want you to know that it is a racket that you cannot blithely ignore. Our family car was making rude noises in public. Like loud flatulence at a Quaker meeting, this had to be stopped! Finally I pulled the car to the side of the road where we could be a little secluded. My suit was a little old so I removed my coat and slid under to see what I could do. During my wriggling and contortions I managed to tear my pants all along the crotch seam. I gerryrigged a wire coat hanger and quieted the car, but now I had the challenge of continuing my date with clothing disrepair. Returning home would seriously truncate our evening plans, so we plunged ahead. Only when we reached the restaurant did I realize the extent of my seam damage. I asked Barbara to walk close behind me, and we must have looked like a clown act as she stuck to me as close as chewing gum on the bedpost. We were seated at a table with a covering that extended over the edge but a few inches. I was suddenly keenly aware of the challenge facing modest girls in short skirts. I was seriously distracted all through dinner, trying to remember to keep my legs crossed. As I remember, we both got the giggles before the evening was over. What had begun as a "tragedy" turned into sublime providential humor. As you can tell from this log, it has become a lasting memory.