Saturday, November 28, 2015

Our Greatest Loss

This was written 11-23-1996 (19 years ago!) before the internet blog was common for a church newsletter.  It does (to me) seem dated, yet it still has some valid points.  I would probably write it quite differently today, but to keep it in it's setting, time, place, and writers style, I will not change it, but I may add comments in red.

There have been many things upon my heart to write recently. It is my hope that this short essay elicits some very deep thoughts. We have, as a society, given in to the sound bite to such a degree that I don’t think we think deeply enough. It is not as though we are shallowminded, but rather we tend to get flabby minded because we do not exercise our deep thinking skills enough.
The title of this essay is Our greatest loss. As a society we have truly lost something invaluable. Some might say that we never had it, but I believe that we all have it to varying degrees and some of us have surrendered more of it than others. What is it that we have lost?

What we have lost is of a cost too great to be paid. Although in theory some might try to regain it by working hard. Let me try to explain. This which we have lost has left us each with an emptiness where it once was. So we try to fill the hole or cover the hole so as to appear whole and be whole in and of ourselves. Since what we have lost is so difficult to replace we spend inordinate amounts of time and money to find the perfect fit, something to hide our great loss. What is worse, we lose more and more of it on a regular basis for varying reasons. In sort of a desperation we begin to point to other people and their loss to redirect the attention of people away from what has now become our shame.

Confused yet!! It really should be apparent, yet because of our attempts to hide our loss, it may not be. I am referring to the loss of our innocence. Not only as a people, or nation, but as individuals. It is innocence which we seek to find, as we diligently look to fill the place it once resided within our hearts. And this was in Adam.
As a participant observer I have seen this search take many forms, in others as well as myself. One might long for the "good ol’ days" however they are defined for him. Another might immerse herself in a search of her roots. Some might try to redefine innocence as something far less so, thereby finding consolation in that they have not lost so much. Personally, I have felt a strong desire to live in a small town like where I grew up.

No matter how hard we try, innocence is not going to be found. Except by the guilt that takes it’s place naturally. Which brings us to the difficult part of this essay. Earlier I mentioned all of us having some degree of innocence. This means that we all have varying degrees of guilt as well. Some of you will not agree.

Guilt implies some law to exist in order that it may be broken. Some of you may disagree that any law exists, but many laws exist, some with great permanency. For instance, take the law of gravity. It exists as surely as you can walk on the earth, for without it you couldn’t! The laws of nature are not laws that one can take or leave. We are all subject to them. A man cannot give birth to a baby. If you really believe you can pick and choose what laws to obey, why do we all look both ways before we cross the street? Because it’s either the bus or me! (credit the example to Dr. Ravi Zacharias)

To whom or what do we therefore have this guilt? Or are the laws we live by just random chance, as in the theory of evolution. If so, we are truly in a hopeless position and might just as well eat, drink, and party, for who knows what comes next?

Scary thought, and dismal too, isn’t it? Many of us live in just this paradox. We live in such a broken up, sound bite world. We tend to have our whole life in tiny compartments. Thereby the guilt we feel in one area need not affect our whole life. Who are we kidding?! We are whole people who are guilty though our whole being. It is important to remember that though we have varying degrees of guilt, any bit of guilt at all results in that we are now guilty. Perhaps not so guilty as another, but indeed guilty. We may not even feel the guilt, but we do feel the loss of innocence. If there really is a law out there which we have broken, the penalty must be paid, so that we can get on with life. What kind of life is it to hide guilt all day long? Or to hide our loss?

To whom or what do we therefore have this guilt? To the lawmaker, most obviously. God did create the world, and the rules which govern it. Therefore it is to Him that we need to pay the penalty. Recall my earlier statement - what we have lost is of a cost too great to be paid. Our guilt has too high a price tag for us to pay. If not surely we would have determined the price. Consider some of the great religions of the world, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Shintoism. They each had some price to free people from their guilt. Some sort of sacrifice usually, although in various forms. Either a personal sacrifice of lifestyle, or an actual sacrificial offering given to a priest to be offered up to God. Yet none of these things is satisfactory to a God who is all powerful and perfect. Even our best sacrificial efforts to pay for our guilt are unacceptable. Why should this be so? Why can’t God just accept our offerings and restore our innocence? It is much like a young boy who has disobeyed his father. The boy can make all kinds of attempts to satisfy his father but he must realize that his father doesn’t want any of that.

God is ready to forgive you, free you of your guilt, and restore your innocence. Are you ready to quit trying to earn your right to be heard by God? Isn’t it enough to know he desires only that you recognize Him as God, and He has already set up a rule for restoration? For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its Savior.

Please, if you have not settled accounts with God, do so today! Tommorrow has never been promised. Speak to Pastor John or Dave or one of the Deacons about this essay.These men were the Pastors and deacons of Forest Glen Baptist Church, Chicago IL  If you live out of the Forest Glen area speak to the Pastor of the church local to you. Why gamble on tommorrow living a semi-satisfying existence? I would not have worded this last sentence like this today.  My revision might look like this, "Why gamble on God's grace - you do not know if you have tomorrow!" 

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