Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Where Is the Good News?

I don't know about you, but I hunger for a newscast that contains just one piece of good news, one story that will encourage my heart, one example that would shine as a light in the midst of the darkness of our times.  But such stories are not easily discovered.  And so we become overwhelmed with the magnitude of evil that is around us. 

There is the cesspool that is Hollywood in particular and the entertainment business in general.  It seems that almost daily another woman steps forward with a lurid story of sexual harassment, and at times, sexual debasement she was forced to endure just to obtain employment.  And these predators were not just "back-alley thugs" but men respected by the entertainment and film industry.  "Back-alley thugs" we lock up in our jails and prisons; these people were wined and dined by others with power.  Oh the rumors were there, but silence became the norm. Friends, I believe we are just now beginning to see the tip of the iceberg of the immorality and debauchery that has been part of the Hollywood scene for decades.  America has its own Sodom and Gomorrah. 

Then there is the continued assault upon the truth that is as old as time itself.  "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27).  Did you notice that God created males and females only.  There are only two sexes.  Yet, the State of California has just approved a third gender option when you apply for a driver's license within that state.  There is male, female, and now nonbinary, which means "I don't know what I am! I am confused about my gender." 

I understand from conversations with physicians and psychologists that a very small percentage of the population is born with a lack of gender clarity.  In other words, this phenomenon is rare.  But what is happening today, I believe, is a direct assault upon the character of God.  It is as if we have said to God, "We don't have to recognize what you have said.  From now on, it is all about us and not about you!"  If we want to create a dozen different options concerning gender, then who is to stop us?  In these days I am drawn back to the words of Paul to the church in Rome, words that probably stirred as much controversy in the first century as they still do in the twenty-first century.  Paul writes: "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse" (Romans 1:18-20). 

Paul is saying that there is a willful and deliberate suppression of God's truth by godless and wicked men.  They know exactly what they are doing.  There is no "wow, I guess I messed up!"  There is, however, a "Wow! Let's continue to mess up!"  The evil heart of man knows exactly what it is doing.  There is no accidental turning away from God.

Let's continue in the text: "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles" (Romans 1:21-23).  When one turns away from God, the only thing that remains is either the worship of self or the worship of the world around us.  And, when a person begins to worship himself or herself, then it is so easy to defend any action you make, no matter how perverse it might be. 

Paul continues, "Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.  They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator - who is forever praised" (Romans 1:24-25).  Later Paul will say that God gave them over to shameful lusts (Romans 1:26) and then to depraved minds (Romans 1:28). 

Friends, the cesspool of Hollywood and the explosion of transgenderism and gender confusion can be laid directly upon the abandonment of absolute truth found in the person of a holy God and expressed through His Holy Word.  Now I know some of you will say, "But Max, there has always been the expression of immorality throughout the generations and cultures."  And you are right, with this exception: In the past, immorality has been looked upon as a deviation from acceptable behavior; today immorality has lost its stigma.  But, the Apostle Paul warned us that this would happen when he wrote: "Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them" (Romans 1:32).  "It's wrong, but let's do it anyway!  What can God do about it?" 

Finally, there is the escalation of violence in our communities.  We have almost become numbed to the weekly totals of shootings and homicides that come from Chicago.  But it is happening all around us.  Small town are not immune to murders or assaults upon others.  People are murdered by complete strangers for no reason at all.  Whether it is on a train platform in France or on a crowded street corner in London or riding the subway in New York City, one must be alert to those around him or her. 

But I do want to close with one tremendous piece of good news.  It is simply this: Jesus Christ is coming again!  Each day we draw one day closer to His coming!  My hope is not anchored in CNN, ABC, NBC, or even Fox News.  My hope is built on nothing else - except the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.   When I am tempted toward despair, I simply look up ready to hear the trumpet.  And then I focus upon what God has commanded me to do: to proclaim His Truth unashamedly to others and to encourage them in their faith.  I trust that is your practice as well.

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