I used to wonder at the purpose for all the dietary laws that the Jewish people of the Old Testament had to observe. Then I heard a pastor talk about how much easier it is to make friends and exchange viewpoints when you have the type of relationship with people that allows you to sit and eat a meal with them. The Lord knew how easily we would make spiritual accommodations with people they made friends with and in Old Testament times sharing a meal was more of a covenant experience than it is now. When you had a guest you were responsible for him while he was in your home. It indicated a certain level of trust. Once you have established a relationship with another person you are at the least more willing to listen to their point of view. God wanted his kids to be separate to keep their spiritual beliefs intact.
Once you listen to another person’s point of view it is not that big a step to have that point of view change your own in some minute way. This is not a bad thing in most cases but I think where our faith is concerned it is tragic and down through the generations those little increments add up.
Now here we are in a society that throws children away for the sake of convenience and material things, accepts a culture that is polluted with pornography on every level and we find ways to evade accountability. We stay busy and we “see” but don’t “discern”. One definition I found for discern was “recognize: detect with the senses”. We need to be using more that our eyes to take a quick glance around these days. We need to be using all our senses to recognize that we no longer have a common accepted “yardstick” by which to measure right and wrong or true and false. We have let every idea people can express be made acceptable in the name of tolerance. The worst of it is that these things affect each successive generation more deeply so the legacy that we leave our children is a bigger mess that the one we started with.
I recently took my computer to a friend for repair. He told me that there was way too much stuff on it and the best thing to do at this point was to back things up and do a clean install. Too bad we can’t do that with life. I think we have let in too much stuff (junk) and we can no longer sort through and recognize (discern) what we should keep and what we should toss. We need a clean install.
Some years ago I read a book co-authored by Chuck Colson and Jack Eckerd titled, “Why America Doesn’t Work.” Here is the opening quote from the book:
“Perched on the brink of the twenty-first century, we look out across a land where our families are disintegrating, our streets have become drug- war zones, our classrooms are turning out thousands of functionally illiterate and morally bereft young people, our economy looks like it’s on a roller-coaster, our government deliberately keeps millions idle, and our work force produces second-rate products while demanding first-rate benefits.
I was, at the time a mother of two toddlers and trying to look ahead to raise them with the tools they would need to be thinking, feeling, compassionate people; capable of making their own decisions in a world that tries to sway us every which way and this book caught my attention.
One of the stories was about a Nazi camp where the Jewish prisoners were ordered to move a huge pile of rocks from one end of the yard to the other. Even though these people were starving and in desperate circumstances they encouraged each other and accomplished the task. When the task was complete they were ordered to move them back. At this stage they stopped encouraging each other, stopped trying and some quit eating or threw themselves at the fence basically committing suicide. The difference? The second move they knew this was a meaningless task. The authors contend that people need meaningful work to survive. Without meaningful work, we as humans have no sense of accomplishment and we, like the Jews in that Nazi camp can sink into despair. I searched for the root meaning of the word despair and found this: from Latin desperare (de- `without’ + sperare `to hope’ People with no hope have nothing to lose or gain. They care about nothing and no one. They have no purpose.
The way I see it, the only way to motivate people with no hope is to give them hope. That gives us several tasks. How do we give them hope? What do we give them hope for? How will they continue to be people of hope?
We had better figure out those answers soon if we are to survive as a culture. We need a clean install.