“At that time there was no king in Israel. People did whatever they felt like doing.” (Judges 21:25)
This is the last verse in the book of Judges. I read it and turned the page to see what came next, but that’s it: there was no king and the people just did whatever they wanted. Throughout the book, we see how Israel has devolved into moral and religious corruption. God continues to draw them with His mercy, and they continue to reject Him. Over and over, it plays like a broken record.
The tribes were given specific directions, but chose to do their own thing. What is interesting is that in the absence of leadership or relationship with God, they formed their own little idols to worship. It’s the human condition to worship something… they just chose the fake over the real. There is a depravity happening on an individual level and on a wider cultural level, it permeated everything they did and it had awful consequences. They were in a kind of moral free fall, and interestingly enough the book ends there. The people just did their own thing.
I’ve been struggling a lot lately with a culture that claims to embrace logic and science, but in reality lives solely by feelings. The radical feminists’ entire agenda relies on the necessity of a fixed gender. The transgender phenomenon relies on the exact opposite argument. What is happening? The blatant dishonesty and willful ignorance involved is mind-numbing. Want to murder your baby just before it’s born? No problem, it’s not really a baby anyway and it’s your right. But please love all and accept everyone. Your six year old boy feels like a girl? Great! Follow that path and do whatever you like, nothing is real until you say so. Unless you need it to be. Wait… now I’m confused again.
I listened to a podcast yesterday that pointed out some interesting consequences to this kind of direction-less thinking. The sexual revolution of years ago delivered some unexpected results. Decades later we have fatherless kids, rampant abortion, shattered families, pervasive pornography, and a #MeToo movement that acts genuinely surprised that we are in this mess. Who has been liberated in all this? Nobody. In trying to free ourselves of all constraints, we have become complete slaves to an ideology that can change with the weather.
We cannot just keep clinging to self and expect things to work out. Lisa Whittle, in her book Put Your Warrior Boots On, says one of my favorite things ever:
“This is why getting right before God is so vitally important. This is why the search in the bottom of a bottle must end. This is why no more playing around with sex. This is why our marriages need to get right. This is why we have to stop playing church. This is why we can’t just do whatever we want. This is why we need to be committed to holy living, at all costs – because sin kills the fight out of us and we need all the fight we can get. Standing is dozens of different moments of yes to God and no to self. We can’t expect to stand for God without practicing. Otherwise, when the time comes, we won’t know what to do.”
We can choose to be the captain of our own ship, but it’ll be more like a rowboat in a typhoon. Rudderless and entirely at the mercy of the changing waves. We need a captain. We need Jesus at the helm. The wisdom of the world is coming in direct conflict with the wisdom of God, now more than ever. God has made foolish the wisdom of the world (I Corinthians 1:20). When you go against the true nature of God, you are faced with two choices: continue in folly or surrender to the truth. The vast majority of our world chooses to continue on believing and promoting things that are false. What is our role here? Bury our heads in the sand? Argue our point until we are exhausted and even more frustrated? Meh.
We are to joyfully embrace the truth. We are to love our neighbor. One of my mottos in life is “speak the truth in love.” It’s so important. Both sides are important, both are necessary. Humorously, I saw this on Twitter yesterday:
Dang, Beth… did you look me up? Because I actually DO have this in my Twitter bio. I get what she’s saying… don’t whack someone over the head with your big fat truth if it’s going to shred them. But this is Biblical and we cannot and must not discount it just because it isn’t fancy or soothing enough for your feelings. Don’t ever say “no, no no” to anything in God’s Word. Say “yes, yes, yes” even when it makes you uncomfortable. I’ll save this for another day, but enough with people telling us how and what to glean from God’s Word. No more human altars.
We need a compass. We need absolutes. Jesus is the only sure thing that keeps us from drifting about in a sea of our own mess. The idol of self is getting bigger every day and we must look away from it if we are to stay afloat in this crazy world.