Recently I posted a reminder of the number of police officers murdered in the line of duty so far this year. Sixteen and nine of those in just the first 14 days of February. The nation mourns with a Florida school over the murder of seventeen students by one former student who had been expelled. His social media posts show a disturbed mind and still we wonder how he comes to have a gas mask and smoke grenades and several magazines of ammunition when he arrives on campus.
In the book of Romans, Paul is writing to the church and in the first chapter he describes the world in which they were living. This was just about thirty years after Christ had been crucified and came back to life, walking out of the grave, seeing hundreds of people before returning to heaven. Reading what Paul wrote would make you think he was living in 2018 America, not the first century in the Roman world. I’ll share just part of it here. This is from the New King James Version.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality,[c]wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving,[d]unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
Amazing isn’t it? There are about a dozen sermons or articles that could be written just from these verses. Don’t worry, I won’t go on that long. I just want you to see three things from that chapter. What did the people do wrong that brought God to the point of giving them over to the wickedness of their mind? Verse 28 has the answer in the first phrase: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge…” They put God out of their minds. It wasn’t important for them to think about God talk about Him in school, no open prayer time, public prayer and discussion of God all were put away. Sound familiar?
Two more points, quickly. Look at the list of what, in contrast to the righteousness of God, deserves death. Today we would quickly nod our head yes for haters of God, inventors of evil things, wicked, murderers, liars. We might get a bit nervous when we read, sexual immorality if we think about what we watch on television or joke about at work. Then there are those who are disobedient to parents. Ouch, that’s painful isn’t it?
Last point. Not only are those who practice such things worthy of death because they do them when they know what it means to be a Christian, but it is just the same punishment for those who know about it happening and the approve of it. I wonder if that can go as far as knowing about it and not doing anything to stop it? That couldn’t be any of us, could it? When was the last time you allowed political correctness to keep you quiet when you felt the overwhelming push of the Holy Spirit to say something?
“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”
― Abraham Lincoln
The portrait above is from the Nathan Green Studios and I appreciate their allowing me to use it here.
Peter, another follower of Christ, who was with Jesus during His ministry, writes a prescription to prevent all of this from continuing. “6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” That comes from the book of First Peter, chapter five. Exalt, in the context of the sentence, means to lift you up, give you honor. Christians in Peter’s day were often not the rich and powerful of his day. He isn’t saying God will make you rich in worldly things, but He will lift you up, encourage you and show you how very much He loves you. Personally, just as America, as a nation, needs that prescription; I think each one of us could benefit from some humble time on our knees before our Lord.
Please, pray for our law enforcement officers, our schools and young people, our nation and our leaders. Maybe one of the most difficult jobs in our nation today is being a pastor. Why not pray for your pastor today, too? That’s my Ministry Minute for today, maybe it was five minutes! God bless.