Friday, July 2, 2010

Pointing Fingers


" 'Now
this was the sin of ... Sodom:

She and her daughters were arrogant,
overfed and unconcerned;
they did not help the poor and needy.
They were haughty and did detestable things before me.

Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.

You have done more detestable things
than they ... your sins were more
vile than theirs, they appear more righteous than you.

You will bear the consequences ...

Yet I will remember the covenant I made
with you in the days of your youth,
and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.

Then, when I make atonement
for you for all you have done,
you will remember and be ashamed
and never again open your mouth
because of your humiliation,
declares the Sovereign LORD.' "

Ezekiel 16:49-52, 60, 63

I find it remarkably easy, even satisfyingly vainglorious, to rise up upon my high horse and point out the awfulness of this or that. It's not difficult to look at today's world and wonder if it hasn't altogether gone the way of Sodom and Gomorrah, so similar are the characteristics of these times. Sighs and rants, for me anyway, are easily crafted into an Ode to My Own Righteousness.

Certainly the scriptures admonish us to assess the times, to be alert, to beware, and to remain firmly & humbly positioned on the high ground (emphasis on "humbly"). But Oh! the temptation to survey the sights from there and point my finger!

Here, in God's own word, and contained clearly in a text that could easily be interpreted as a judgment against the nation of Israel, is some really good news; the same Good News found in the Gospel narratives of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. What's more, it's just one among the many like-texts embedded throughout the Old Testament.

What strikes me as particularly compelling in Ezekiel's Chapter 16 is this:

  • Sodom's sin had more to do with their attitude than with their practices. They were first arrogant & complacent which - in turn - gave rise to their detestable practices.
  • God's own people were actually worse than Sodom's worst - - so says the text..
  • Though God holds individuals and nations accountable for their sin (and it doesn't matter if that sin is small or huge), it is HE alone that provides for sin's atonement. So much for my own feeble attempts.
  • The application of God's grace (salvation) is - first and last - His doing; Christ being the ultimate and ONLY atonement. The Good News doesn't get much gooder than that!
  • If God scolded His people THEN for pointing to Sodom as a proof of their own innocence, He's still admonishing us TODAY to not do likewise; to not compare ourselves with either the worst in our midst, or the best.
  • My comparisons need always and forever to be a vertical, and not a horizontal initiative. "We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise." 2 Corinthians 10:12
  • To understand and fully appreciate the everlasting (new) covenant He's transacted for me and with me, and in me, I need to see myself in Sodom. That makes it pretty darn tough to point at the other guy as proof of my goodness OR badness - believer and unbeliever alike.
" ...let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles,
and let us run with perseverance the race
marked out for us.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus,
the author and perfecter of our faith ...

Consider Him who endured such
opposition
from sinful men,
so that you will not grow
weary
and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3

11 comments:

Parsley said...

I enjoyed reading your post. I posted this recently: http://seasonsofmymind.blogspot.com/2010/06/biblical-interpretation.html

Hope you find time to read and possibley enter my recipe exchange.

Nel said...

What a great post. I will have to read it again when I am fully awake. lol. How hard it is too not compare ourselves or our nation to others, but you are right we are not supposed to point our finger. A very good read! Something for all of us to digest and think about. I love your posts, they always make me think!
until next time... nel

joven said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
manthano said...

Makes us want to tape our mouths shut.
Thanks and God bless you. Keep it up.

Rita said...

If we fix our eyes on Him, we don't have much to worry about. What a good lesson you brought us today.

Rita said...

If we fix our eyes on Him, we don't have much to worry about. What a good lesson you brought us today.

Cindy - Letters From Midlife said...

I struggle with this too so your post was a good one for me to read today. Thanks for being obedient and honest in sharing it.

~*~KIMBERLY~*~ said...

I like what you said Kathleen: "My comparisons need always and forever to be a vertical, and not a horizontal initiative."

One of my motto's in life is to keep my vertical alignment aligned!

Just a little something from Judy said...

I look at life, my life and say to all that I see around me, "there but by the Grace of God,go I." Truly, like the children of Israel, we are what we are by the Grace of God, and because our God is a covenant keeping God. I am more aware than ever that it is not about me, and ALL about Him. What a profound post you shared today.

Terri Tiffany said...

I think it is easier for us to point a finger outward than inward. Thank you for a great post! Hope you are home safe and sound.

Karen said...

I always liked the reminder concerning pointing a finger at someone...that three fingers were pointing back at me...thanks for this convicting post....