As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you. (Psalm 42:1)
For years I’ve heard my wife say, in response to something that requires consideration, “It takes more than a notion.” By this, she means whatever the issue is, it’s not something that can or should be brushed aside easily. She’s been saying this for as long as I can remember and we’re closing in on five decades of marriage. Many of us have favorite sayings that others notice even when we don’t.
I’m at a stage of life where I have more time to meditate and reflect than ever. One of these reflections is the increased prevalence of spiritual egalitarianism that is expressed in three ways I’m sensitive to: (1) religious pluralism which posits that all religious expression is of equal spiritual value; (2) the mixing of elements from different religious belief systems (syncretism); and (3) the amalgamation of orthodox Christian doctrines with a range of social and/or political doctrines so that Christian faith is joined to whatever “good” the social or political stance defines as “good.”
This latter case seems to be expressing itself in the church more and more. I’ll leave it to you to imagine your own examples, although I can think of a few. The stated or implied justification is almost always what is viewed as right and just in human eyes (although the subjectivity of all of these eyes leads to different and often conflicting conclusions about what is right and just).
I want to state clearly that I am not voicing an opinion about the alleged superiority of “the good old days” when this issue wasn’t nearly as prevalent or obvious. As a close friend once said, “The good old days weren’t so good for some people!” Furthermore, I say unequivocally that I have strong concerns and feelings about the injustice and a lack of righteousness that is so easily sways us and which seeks to overwhelm all of us. The doctrine of holiness to which I subscribe has no room for the unrighteousness of injustice.
I do want to say that we who consider ourselves Christians need to be very, very careful about making any social or political doctrine equal in importance to Christ whereby we wind-up sacrificing our reliance on Him or our obedience to Him for the sake of what we prefer. To do so calls into question His Lordship in our lives. Consideration of this takes more than a notion.
“Seek first the kingdom of God…” (Matthew 6:33) is both a command and a life-ordering principle for those who are serious about following Him, not just calling themselves by His name. I don’t think any of us can legitimately seek the kingdom without seeking the King. Deep and consistent care is needed to avoid seeking anything, loving anything, preferring anything as vigorously (or more vigorously) than we seek after, love, prefer Him.
It’s a tall order for sure and it is costly because it bumps up against so many things we prefer…and it is offensive to many because of that very same reason. I am reminded of how offensive Jesus was to those who would not receive Him on His terms. At the end of the proverbial day, I have to ask myself, do I trust Him even when I’d rather trust myself? I’m not interested in going back to someone’s idea of “the good old days.” Likewise, I’m not interested in any “good new days” that deconstructs the Christ of the Bible to fit a social or political agenda.
My own prayer is this: Lord, wean me from all that the world loves and that You despise. Take me deeper behind the open veil.
It will take more than a notion.
© Byron L. Hannon, 2022. All rights reserved except as otherwise noted.