"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Long before Jesus, a man of God received a vision of Jehovah/Yahweh (this translates to the Eternal, Self-existent One) seated upon a throne. The earth shook with the voices of seraphim repeatedly declaring God's holiness. Isaiah the prophet responded to God's perfect holiness by lamenting his uncleanness and that of his people. His confession brought a seraph with a live coal to cleanse the prophet's lips, and thus cleansed, he heard the Lord say, “Whom shall I send, and who shall go for us?”

The prophet answered, “Here am I! send me.

In His commission of Isaiah, the Lord indicted His people Israel, “Go, and say to this people: 'Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive. Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.'” (Isaiah 6:9,10 ESV)

That indictment characterized God's people throughout much of history, and remains true today for His people the church. Godly men teach and preach instruction in Christ-like living, yet we pew-sitters fail to put such wisdom into practice, content to remain thumb-sucking, milk-drinking, spiritual babies. And the toll of our deafness is compounded by our widespread spiritual blindness. Wondering why our congregations seem stale and impotent in our assault on hell's gates, we refuse to gaze into the mirror of God's word and behold the truth of our own carnality.

When John the baptizer heard of the Nazarene's marvelous works, he directed his disciples to go and inquire of Him. Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me." (Matthew 11:4-6 ESV)

Jesus did such wonderful things not only as a sign to those watching for God's Messiah, but because of His love and compassion for those suffering from their sin's bitter fruit. Those who live by faith in God's divine Son, however, see a deeper significance in Jesus' miracles. Since Adam's fall, a far more profound blindness has cursed mankind, and by healing that blindness, Jesus leads us to nothing less than eternal redemption.

If we dig to the foundations of all sin, we find the infamous, sin of Adam. Some call that, Original Sin, and blame Adam and Eve for sending us down that road to perdition. Others deny sin’s existence, claiming religionists out to guilt-trip the masses invented it. Both theories, however, deny several obvious human traits:

    1. Humans worship, and we prefer worshiping something visible. When God seems silent or remote, we invent new objects of worship, such as “nature,” natural science, power, those in power, possessions, and self.

    2. Humans church. Though few will admit it, to church is a verb that encompasses the wide range of social and ritual behavior typically exhibited when religious folks get together. While nothing is wrong with churching per se, saturating our churching with other traits of human fallenness is wrong.

    3. Humans grasp. We are jealous of what we perceive as our possessions, even protecting them with our lives.

    4. Humans aspire. If someone else has it, we want it. If some else has more of it, we want more than they have. If we're not there yet, we nag our parents. If we're behind someone, we must be first.

    5. Humans rebel. Though we need a transcendent object of worship, we chafe under external authority. Watch most any tired two-year-old child, and this point is proven. Adults, however, have refined the crude rebelliousness of childhood into an art. We can, with little thought, subvert or usurp any authority structure where we are not the Head.

    6. Humans sulk. When we perceive a personal affront, we deeply resent it, carrying it even to the grave. The truly pathetic aspect of this trait is we persist in carrying a grudge even when it destroys our lives, though our grudges harm not a hair on their objects' heads.

    7. Humans grope—as in darkness. Even when we have a guide or a map, we prefer stumbling about, seeking our own way. And herein lies the blindness that Jesus came to eradicate from humanity.

Physical blindness is not fun. Yet, most sight impaired and blind people live productive, successful lives by learning to work around what could be a devastating disability. Spiritual blindness is a different story; a most tragic story. For the spiritually blindeveryone is born that waythere is no workaround. The only cure is death, and rebirth by God's Spirit. That includes nice folks, moral folks, church folks.

The biggest problem with spiritual blindness is those who have it, can't see it. Tell them about it, and they become huffy.

So, there's the problem. What's the solution? Jesus' apostle Paul said it best: Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Romans 7:24-25 ESV)

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