Here it is October of 2018. As I had wanted to get up earlier than usual this morning, I found myself hitting the snooze on the alarm a few times. Eventually, my wife and I were up and going for the day. Naturally, I blame her for letting me sleep longer than I wanted to. Which she naturally denies any fault in the matter. Jokingly, we carry on this discussion throughout each day about something minor, who is to blame for what, all the while knowing that we are not serious.
However, there is a well established rule between the two of us which is simply that who ever is falsely accused by the other of anything, whatever that accusation was, the accused now is allowed to do or not do what was accused.
For example, if my wife accuses me of eating the last three cookies in the cookie jar and I then show her that those last three cookies have been moved into a bag in another place and I did not eat them, well then those last three cookies are now mine! This rule is intended to cause us to consider what we accuse each other of and limits the accusations.
So, my son shared a news article with me on October 1, 2018, which told the story of a Mother of a young man in high school. The Mother has filed a federal law suite against the school claiming age and gender discrimination.
Apparently her son tried out for the varsity soccer team and did not make the team, the school has a rule that once that happens the player cannot return to the junior varsity team. ( click the links to see the news articles.)
I will not give an opinion or thought on the details of that situation, however I will quote my son when he said, “Welcome to America 2018”.
This case along with countless others which seem ridiculous to some and warranted by others, including such cases like the Kavanaugh case. One of the underlying issues seems to be more about the ability to bring accusation against anyone so readily and aggressively regardless of the magnitude of the situation or the consequences of all involved. Understand that I do believe that there are certain rights afforded to each of the citizens of this United States of America and support those rights.
The issue at hand is not so much about who has the right to do what, the issue is more about how society as a whole and individually are becoming so soft, or so sensitive that any sign of friction or hardship in life triggers this knee jerk aggression that demands restitution, and demands it publicly!
At first I think to myself, “has it really come to this, are we really that spoiled, selfish, and sensitive?” And then I remember Jesus wondering how long he must endure the people. I remember Moses getting advise to appoint good men to help take the complaints of the people. On and on we see this same way of life throughout recorded history.
So, what instructions do we Christians have to guide us in living in this world and not of this world? The answer to that question which I find in scripture is simply to not participate in it. I do not mean that we should not participate in life and interaction with others, I mean that we should not participate in the ways of the world.
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when yo were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:1–6 (NIV)
This past Sunday our congregation studied how Adam and Eve were called out by God when they sinned against Him. Adam blamed God and Eve and Eve blamed the serpent. And since then, people have been playing the blame game until today.
In fact, we are getting to be masters at the game! The instruction given and what is expected by God through the scripture is that we are all found above reproach or blameless against accusation.
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,”
Philippians 2:14–15 (NASB)
Living “above reproach” or “blameless” does not mean living perfect. Most understand the impossibility of that. The intended understanding should be that the people of God would live in such a way that when, not if but when, accusations come, the accusations cannot stand. Most of the time making the effort with the help of Christ to live according to what we read in Ephesians 4 and Philippians 2 will produce this effect.
However, let us not be naïve about it. It is quite apparent to anyone who is paying attention that one does not have to be actually guilty of committing an offense to be accused. If Daniel were here, we could ask him about that.
We probably could study the life of Daniel in the light of the idea of living above reproach and blameless. We can not only see what it looks like to be faithful to this way of life, but we also can see the results of living a life above reproach.
What makes it hard is that this way of life, the Christian way of life, often times means that we do not get to be paid restitution for the offenses committed against us. Nor should we even demand it. After all, is that not what forgiveness is all about? Shall I point out what should be obvious?
If we all get what we deserve, well let me just say that Jesus would never have been in this world and would not have given His life in the manner in which He did. Because we all deserve what He spared us from! Separation from God for eternity. But for His mercy and grace!
To conclude, let me say one thing about this mother and her federal law suite against the high school. Aside from what anyone thinks is right or wrong, and who has the right to do what or who is offended about what, what about this young man? What must he be experiencing through all of it?
What are going to be the long-term consequences for him as he goes into the world in which everyone knows about this incident? What is this action teaching him about life in this world? And then there is the ripple effect it is going to have throughout the school, community, and so on. I do not presume to know the answers to those questions.
What I do know is that we all live in a world in which we are only in control of how we act and re-act. For those of us who have committed ourselves to the Kingdom of God as ambassadors, that is we who believe and are being saved, we have an obligation, an expectation demanded of us by God to choose not to participate in the things of the world which do not honor Him! Even if it means we suffer. As we read in Philippians 2 earlier, we are to be lights in the world. To do so, we must be different. Ponder on these words found in Matthew 10:16.
“Behold I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.” (NASB)