Tuesday, December 18, 2007

per BHT links, why does God favor the sheltered momma's boy?

http://theresurgence.com/ab_blog_2007-12-11_preaching_to_smothered_mamas_boys

http://threehierarchies.blogspot.com/2007/12/i-think-they-missed-crucial-point.html

The behavior of Jacob's parents may have helped lead him to become a passive aggressive deceiver, yet the same favoritism also lead Esau to be a fool with an unrepentant heart who sold his birthrate for a bowl of soup. If the upbringing of the twins is proof of parental wrong-doing this plays out in interesting ways because in the end neither son was that grateful to or attentive to the Lord based on the upbringing of their parents.

Jacob's tragedy was not that he grew up emasculated but that he grew up in a setting where he chose to take lightly the Lord's legacy, the same problem that Esau had. God in His mercy chose Jacob over Esau to reveal something about His character to us.

A father who shows favoritism to one son is not necessarily being more involved as a parent in a healthy way than the passive one. Passivity from a father is not just a categorical point but a relational point. A father can choose to be passive with one of his children and not the other but odds are decent a father who is passive with one child may be overly involved in the other. If Jacob was smothered by his mother then couldn't we suggest that Esau was smothered by his father? To go by the lack of gratitude both men displayed toward the Lord it doesn't seem entirely unreasonable.

And of course the thing about these twins is that you can have the same parents and the same upbringing but neither is by itself a matter to consider if the Lord has His own design.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Comfort

More or less, when Israel had grown sleek and fat, as one prophet put it. There are many things we would rather hold on to than the truth and comfort is one of them. No one wants to be in a position, least of all me, where I am not sure who I can rely on or who I can unconditionally trust. Conditional trust is problematic because it means it is performance derived and becomes a sort of works theology in the end, applied to everyone I know. If I trust people based on whether or not they come through for me I sit in judgment over them.

Naturally it's not smart to just trust any person without a good cause but I am considering the good cause with which I trust plenty of people. There are thousands of people who go into making a secure financial transaction on the internet. If I order a book from, say, Amazon.com, I know that many people worked to make that transaction secure so that in buying something from them I am not automatically and immediately compromising the safety and integrity of my financial information. If I make a donation to a church I am trusting that the money will actually be used to help someone and not just line the pockets of someone who is not doing the Lord's work. If I use a debit card to make a purchase I am trusting that the information on my card is secure and safe in the hands of the person at the check-out desk. If I get on a bus I am trusting the bus driver knows where he or she is going and that that person will get me there in a timely manner.

We trust people with things that are not our heart all the time. Understandably, though, a person wants to keep his heart safer than his checkbook in some things, though it is ideal to have both things kept safe.

The Lord warns against the dangers of comfort regularly in Scripture and it just strikes me at the mmoent that it is comfort the two kings of the divided kingdoms were really seeking. They wanted thing to remain as they had been, they wanted to remain comfortable in their knowledge, influence, power, prestige. They wanted to retain what they believed was their God-given right, and indeed God had through His providence provided them with what they had and it seems that they both recognized that at some level, and yet when pressed they both opted to lead God's people into idolatry for the sake of their own convenience and comfort. This may shed some light (or not) on what Scripture says in saying that this or that king did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. Idolatry is the great sin of man and it is man's sin not only because I forsake God but that through my example I encourage others to forsake the Lord, too. We are in that respect as Satan is, deceivers who are deceived and deceiving one another and I am certainly afflicted by this. I can truly believe I am telling the truth and understanding things as they are but not aware that I have been deluded by my older nature and not attentive to the Spirit that dwells within me.

And we are all so apt toward this that it becomes difficult to discern the folly in our own hearts even as we consider so readily and easily the folly in the hearts of others. We all bear traces of the divine image, however marred, yet we do not recognize it in each other and do not cultivate it in ourselves, nor can we apart form the work of the Spirit within us and yet we can, paradoxically cooperate with the Spirit who has sealed us for the Lord's purposes.

None of this is very simple in practice and all of it involves steps of faith that are far easier described than done.

To take comfort is to take refuge and it is sobering to remember that there are so many things a person can take refuge in before Christ--friends, family, work, pleasure, honor, distinction, service, none of them bad things but if I define my value through the friends I have, the family I have, the work I have done, the pleasure I derive, the honor I receive, the distinction I have been given, or the things I think I have done in service, these are all of no value. If I take comfort in any service I have rendered I am most to be pitied because service is of no account to the Lord not because it has no value but because the things that seem most humble are often least humble and the things that seem most truthful are often least truthful. I cannot trust myself and that is why it is easier in some sense to trust others, because the heart is deceitful above all things.

But in the end there is only one who tells the truth without the shadows of corruption and deceit and self-regard, that is Christ.