Monday, October 12, 2015

Floccinaucinihilipilification

image used under Creative Commons license, 
photo by Sander van der Wel, from Flickr
Today's title got your attention, didn't it? I'm not sure how many of us could get through pronouncing that correctly and smoothly at the same time.  Bekkie Sanchez has been sharing unique words on Google+ and that was one of them. Google says it's a noun and is "the action or habit of estimating something as worthless. (The word is used chiefly as a curiosity.)."

That whole idea of worthlessness got me thinking about some of the realities of who we are and the contrasting misconceptions some tend to espouse and live by.  It leads us directly to the sense of depression and dejection we see in our illustration.  Whether it's circumstances, other people, or ourselves beating us up mentally, is that emotional beat down correct?  Should we be dwelling on our shortcomings?  Do we need to fix ourselves?  Or, perhaps, are we too depraved to be repairable?

That all seems very negative,  But consider this:

Jeremiah 17:9  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

That verse sounds all encompassing, with no hope.  But is it?  Or is it totally wrong?  Are we all evolving into some level of perfection, as some think?  Let's take a look.

Think of what the Bible says about Satan.

Luke 22:31 (KJV)  And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:

1 Peter 5:8 (KJV)  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:


The verse in Luke shows us Jesus telling Peter that Satan wanted to run him through the spiritual thrasher.  And Peter warns others, "Hey, guys.  It's true.  I'm living proof.".  One of the easiest ways to do that is to play with our emotions and convince us we're either too good or not good enough. When we start heading for extremes in our emotions and our perceptions, there's a natural tendency to swing back toward normal.  Satan will take that swing past normal, in the other direction.  Or he'll block our moods from reaching normal.  All it takes is some combination of drugs, alcohol, circumstances, and our own emotions.

The ideal in Satan's strategy is that we get overwhelmed, then try to fix things by ourselves.  We first ignore that God's there to help, then we ignore God.  If we're unbelievers, no matter how good or bad things are on earth, Satan's done.  The devil has separated another person from eternally being with God.  If we've accepted salvation, then Satan's goal is to keep us confused and miserable for as long as possible.  He doesn't like that there is a plan of salvation for us, but not for him.

The devil doesn't need to do all this himself or through the fallen angels.  He'll use people to initiate or continue the misery.  Think of all the times you've heard someone start downing a Christian as being insensitive because they aren't "politically correct", the nice way of saying "Shut up.  Let us be comfortable in our sin.".  And we can understand that.  

A variation of that might be something like the Black Lives Matter movement.  Or any of the white supremacists.  It gets people's attention on skin color as determining good or bad.  It totally ignores that prejudice and evil are color blind.  Those things live in hardened hearts, no matter what color.  If Satan can convince us that race is more important than our spiritual condition, he can keep us divided, fighting each other instead of him.  And our minds are neither in line with God nor on Him. That's not just a problem between believers and the unsaved.

Matthew 23:33 (KJV)  Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

That's the third time Jesus spoke to the Pharisees and Scribes in those terms in the book of Matthew.  As we look at those incidents, there's an interesting picture.  Christ wasn't angry at them for being sinners.  After all, Jesus says in Luke 19:10, "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.".  It's their willingness to live in that state and, through their legalism, to draw others into the same pattern, toward them and away from God.  They made religion a way to control others and have them give adulation to the religious leaders, instead of God.

The Gospel of John gives us another insight.

John 8:44 (KJV)  Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Jesus was speaking to the Jews, descendants of one of the tribes of Israelites that went into Egypt to avoid a famine, later followed Moses out of Egypt, deciding to worship a golden calf in the process.  The same Israelites who were promised safety and prosperity in the Promised Land but nearly skipped that by a majority vote of the spies who went in, based on reports of giants in the land.

Jesus wasn't angry that they were sinners.  Instead, He was angry because they'd rather live in falsehoods than what God says.  God was removed as the standard.  They wouldn't allow Truth to eradicate their sin.  They lived in "Let's believe us instead of God.".  In this case, Satan convinced them their thinking was more accurate than God's thoughts, and they refused to change.

A more modern day example might be a person I know from one of the larger social media sites. This person is anti-Israel because those in residence there today aren't the same as the Israelites of the Bible.  Then, this person explains how bad the people claiming to be descendants of the Israelites are, lying about who they are.  The person listed a series of traits that they didn't believe fit the Israelites of the Bible.  Except they really are similar to the Israelite problems I described earlier.  Yet, there was nothing from this person validating what they said, just the claims with no proof.

This very same person has made statements equating those who preach grace with those who use grace as a license to sin.  They're after parts of the church, too.  And the statements are vague enough to not differentiate those who believe in grace and mercy from those who live in a social or prosperity gospel.

What this person misses is that Jesus rarely dealt in name calling or "righteous anger".  He was too busy seeking and saving the lost, feeding the masses, healing the sick, etc. to be bothered with anything that even looked like self righteousness.  He wasn't going to be a tool of the devil against the rest of the Trinity.  He couldn't think of Himself as greater or less than He really was.  And Jesus never tried to make others feel that way.

Yes, Jeremiah 17:9 tells us the condition of our flesh.  But God never leaves us there.  And we're called to be like Him.  Which means we're to be imitators of Christ.  Casting judgment is eliminated, even on ourselves, simply because we're not God.  But living in Jesus' example, our job is to reconcile with God those we may discern as being in error.  Not judging them and leaving them in an unreconciled state.  And that, very likely, includes ourselves.

We need to give everyone as much opportunity to become right with God as possible.  We don't want to feed dejection, false humility, self aggrandizement or any of the other things that separate us and others from God.  Spiritual reconciliation is the name of the game.  How will you make that happen, today?

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