My Thoughts. . .
Monday, August 5, 2029
The question is asked, “Do we know the difference between sin and righteousness?” That’s a simple question. Is there a simple answer?
What if you were a Jew living in Jerusalem in 70 A.D.? The Roman army, under Titus, has breached the walls. The Temple is in flames and crumbling. Over a million people are dead, due to starvation, suicide, or the Roman war machine. You did not leave the city when 50,00 other Jewish Christians did. Why? Didn’t Jesus make that destruction known through signs he told followers to look for (Matthew 24; Mark 13:1-37; Luke 21:5-36)? You stayed because you would not abandon your sick parents. You were being obedient to God’s command to “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12). Despite your efforts, they did not survive. You did. Yet, weren’t you guilty of disobedience?
Didn’t Jesus tell his disciples to “flee,” take “flight,” and “get out” of Jerusalem (Matthew 24:16; Mark 13:14, 20; Luke 21:21)? Could some in that 50,000 not help you carry your parents to safety? Why second guess Jesus? Paul wrote,
“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves” (Romans 13:1-2).
Weren’t the Romans the bonified rulers of Palestine? Weren’t they fighting against the city of Jerusalem because of the civil disobedience of the Jews? Did Jesus tell saints to remain in the city and fight for the rights of Judaism or “get out”? If one was staying because of the protection the city walls offered, would he not be disregarding Jesus’ prophecy about the failure of those walls? Should one remain and protect his property against looters or obey Jesus’ warnings? Which is more important?
The proper course seems so clear that we would wonder why any Christian would decide to remain in Jerusalem during that siege. Perhaps the right answer is simple to come by because we are not involved. What would be our choice if the scenario was in 2019 rather than 70 A.D.?
Most Christians would agree that abortion is wrong. Liberal politicians, doctors, and “health” clinics are now for the killing of unwanted babies that survive the technics of abortion. We would vocally vote against such. We would, without hesitation, label such action as “murder.” Our cry against it would be 100% in line with our faith. That opposition would be the “Christian” thing to do.
Easy questions from easy scenarios appear easy to answer. However, what if a business supporting that liberal action is your favorite place to shop? You shop there because they have what is difficult to impossible to find nearby. Their prices are right. Their product quality is outstanding. Their return policy is simply and quick. Their charge card is in your possession and features some wonderful perks. You know and appreciate some of the employees. Yet, 15% of their profits go toward the political support of that abortion practice. They support passing laws which would make such “killing” legal nationwide. Yet, you continue making that your favorite place to shop. Which is more important, buy from a business that supports the murder of babies, or your faith which says it is sinful?
- Is it too inconvenient to shop elsewhere?
- Do you continue shopping there because all other stores will probably follow suite?
- Yet, if the owners were Hindu, would you be guilty of supporting Hinduism by shopping there? If not, why would you be guilty just because the ownership spends their profits on something else you disagree with?
- What modern business or manufacturing concern doesn’t support things which a Christian is against? Why stop shopping over one sinful action but not others?
- If one is guilty by association, wouldn’t Jesus be a sinner because he allowed a prostitute to wash his feet?
- If shopping at a business makes one guilty of the sins that corporation indulges in, wouldn’t saints that work for it be just as guilty? Would they not need to quit?
For some Jews, using Roman money meant they agreed to Roman occupation and paganism. With that thought in mind some approached Jesus with a Roman coin and asked, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” (Matthew 22:17). What is interesting, Jesus wasn’t the owner of the coin! He didn’t mince words and called them “hypocrites” (v.18). It wasn’t sinful for them to own Roman money. It wasn’t sinful for them to ask their question. However, their motives were the sin of hypocrisy.
In a broken world, made up of broken people, it is hard for broken individuals, even those who have been mended by Jesus, to not be touched by that brokenness. We may be interested in doing all things right, but because of our imperfections and inconsistencies, we may end up being more like those who questioned Jesus than being like the Master himself (Luke 7:39; Matthew 22:15-17). Like a lot of other things that come up for questioning in a Christian’s life, the right answer is found in Paul’s advice.
“Some think that Christians should observe the Jewish holidays as special days to worship God, but others say it is wrong and foolish to go to all that trouble, for every day alike belongs to God. On questions of this kind everyone must decide for himself” (Romans 14:5).