Saturday, August 21, 2010

Are We A Bunch Of Quitters

We are a bunch of quitters, or at least that is the direction much of our society has been moving toward for the last few decades. Perhaps there is a glimmer of a changing attitude but it is only a glimmer. For many people the easiest way to deal with problems is to walk away. It is how we treat our possessions and relationships. If our stove breaks it is easier and cheaper to buy a new one. It is not saying that we can't fix it but buying a new one appears to be the best solution. We do the same with relationships. A friend is becoming too much of a drain, is not giving as much as they are taking, are doing things we do not agree with so, we get rid of them, just like putting the stove by the side of the curb. We may do the same with different groups we are in and we certainly know a look of teens do it with school. When it gets hard it is the easy solution to walk away instead of trying to overcome the challenges.

No wonder so many marriages fail. Mine did. It's not the easiest thing for me to write about this morning but it is the right thing to do. As we learn to quit various things in our lives it gets easier as we go along. Dating certainly does not help with promoting faithfulness. In dating, people enter and leave relationships like a bee going from flower to flower. We taste the nectar and then fly off to check out a different flower. These things get ingrained in our thinking so it is how we deal with so many things. We don't like our job so we fly off to a different flower. We don't like our church so we fly off to a different flower. We don't like our friends so we are off to try a different bunch. We don't like our spouse, so off we go. Now here we are, a bunch of quitters trying to teach our kids to be faithful without understanding it ourselves. What do you think they will learn from us?

Divorce is now everywhere we look. It is in my family and I dare say it is in yours. We all know someone personally who has faced this and is trying to survive the aftermath. Can we possibly understand why Jesus taught:

It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.' But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery. (Matthew 5:31-32)

They were a bunch of quitters in Jesus' day as well. It had gotten to a point where a man could divorce his wife if she burnt supper or didn't make the bed right. When a man married he was expecting a perfect woman who would do everything right, cooking perfectly, raising the kids perfectly, looking after the house perfectly so that if she did not meet his expectations he would get rid of her and try the next. He wasn't looking for a wife but was trying out house maids. The purpose of marriage was being abused.

Besides our union with Jesus, marriage is the ultimate commitment. Through the sexual act two people become one flesh, and this was intended for life. The only way this union can be broken is when one of them joins with another person. But even then our God prefers reconciliation. Israel had gone too far in its unfaithfulness, with the certificates of divorce, and Jesus brought them back to the reality of the Father's heart. What is that heart? We can see it here in Malachi:

Another thing you do: You flood the LORD's altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, "Why?" It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.
 Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.
 "I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel, "and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment," says the LORD Almighty.
      So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.
(Malachi 2:13-16)

Our Father is heart broken any time we break a covenant, a promise or do not follow through on our word but I think we have become desensitized to this fact. When we do something long enough it fails to have an impact on us any more which leads us to further failures.The Church is becoming desensitized to divorce. It hurts but we accept it. In this age of grace we know that God forgives our sins when we turn to him in repentance but sometimes I think we are becoming grace abusers. The Apostle Paul warned us:

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (Romans 6:14-18)

I write this as a man who has faced marital failure. I failed. I caused pain to my Father and to many people in our lives. My family is split and some of my children are filled with rage. It has set a pattern in their lives that only Jesus can re-write. They are facing many challenges now and they are at a disadvantage compared to those with loving parents. My failure is deep and long-lasting. We do this in so many areas of our lives, not understanding the importance of small and large covenants. Our Father dislikes unfaithfulness because he has experienced so much of it and it offends his character. Is our desire not to please our Father? Do we live for ourselves or for him? I think we may be losing the big picture, the understanding that we are suppose to be slaves to God's righteousness and not him to our desires. I think we dishonour the purpose of repentance and treat grace as a "Get out of jail free" card.

I long for a glimpse of his holiness so that my orientation can be corrected. I long for a drink of his living water again so that the plumb can be set straight in my life again, so that wrong is wrong and right is right. Is it just me or does the Bride need another glimpse of the wonder, grace, beauty and holiness of the Groom? We need to put an end to this attitude of quitting in our lives and we need to stand on the ground he has given each of us; to stand faithfully, to stand in the face of all the storms of life. And after we have done everything we can to stand, to trust Jesus to strengthen us further to stand until the end.

Open the eyes of my heart Lord,
Open the eyes of my heart,
I want to see You. I want to see You.

To see You high and lifted up,
Shining in the light of Your glory.
Pour out Your power and love,
As we sing holy, holy, holy.

Holy, holy holy. Holy, holy, holy.
Holy, holy, holy, I want to see You.                       - Paul Baloche