Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Friday, May 22, 2015

To bite the dust

In a sad, perverted way, everything in the story makes sense. There's a man, probably a good man, who thinks he's doing the right thing, is committed to it in fact. Why wouldn't he be? He's been told since he was old enough to think about such matters that what he opposes is opposed by none other than God almighty and thousands of years of human history.

And the battle is current. A visible, aggressive enemy seeks to destroy him and those around him, all who are committed to the Lord's work. The Devil is legion, even within him. He knows Satan and feels the burden of ever-present darkness. His prayer life is diligent; his sweat turns to blood.

What he knows and others don't seem to understand is that righteousness requires a gargantuan struggle, 24/7 vigilance when the Devil is seeking whom he will devour.

Sin is a wily stalker after all, and scripture tells all kinds of stories of the treachery of the righteous. King David, in whom God so delighted, couldn't help himself when he saw Bathsheba, lost his moral bearing altogether when he set up her husband to die. Like Paul, he simply couldn't help himself. You know, Romans 7:15: "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." That's God's Holy Word.

He finds himself right there, the lost sheep. No one in the flock is as beloved than he who is most a sinner because the Good Shepherd loves lost souls, heads into the wilderness to find them. Look at Saul.

The more he sins, the more he knows he needs the Lord, and the more he needs the Lord, the more intense his prayers. 

It's all so insanely understandable. Let's say he's pyromaniac. No one gets hurt--he finds abandoned barns all over the countryside, places that should come down. He just helps others get rid of trash, after all. Or klepto--he grabs odd stuff, too--nothing expensive, nothing any shopkeeper will ever going to miss. Afterward, he just about slays himself with grief because he can't stop and guilt because he knows it's wrong. Adultery maybe. Or greed. 

When he preaches God's love, he knows it first hand--God's wrath too. All of that spiritual warfare goes on within him. If you're brought up in an evangelical world, it's just so understandable, so Arthur Dimmesdale.

Beaten by his own evil longings, this man of the cloth gets caught at what he both hates and can't stop, at the sin he's waging war against, even in his own soul. He is brought down by what has suddenly become his own public sin.

Today, when what he considers his sin is being gay, it's no worse than it might be for anything else, but vastly more political. 

It happened last week. Yet another outspoken, anti-gay pastor bit the dust (an apt expression really) when someone discovered pictures he posted of himself on a gay website. The pastor who has preached righteousness to high heaven has been trolling down into the pit at the very same time.

In a sad and perverse way, it's just so understandable .

And everyone loses--his church, his wife, his family, and his politics.

But maybe it's a blessing for the rest of us. It could be if we learned just one thing from this sad and perverse story, the most trying lesson of all, pride being the first of the Seven Deadly sins--we all need to bite the dust.  


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