On Saturday, I will be celebrating my 3rd anniversary as a blogger on WordPress. On July 20, 2010, I started up this blog site without any idea of what I was going to do with it. Those first few months were very “iffy” and the posts “scattered” and without any consistent theme (other than the fact that I was–and still am–unemployed). By April 2011 I was so frustrated with it that I deleted everything I had written at that point and gave it a rest. Then, on July 8, 2011, for no particular reason and with three previously written blog posts, I fired it back up again . . . .
. . . And it just took off like the wind blows!!!!!!!! (Sort of like Forrest Gump who could run “like the wind wind blows.”) I think of “Forrest Gump” as being the quintessential “Baby Boomer” movie as it spans several very important decades in Forrest Gump’s life that made the Boomers who they are. And like Forrest Gump (played by Tom Hanks) who got a rather rough start in life but triumphed over his significant challenges regardless of how others may have felt about him, my blog site struggled at the beginning until the focus became very clear a year later and it just “took off,” and also regardless of how others may have felt about my particular take on certain “sacred cows” within the broader subject of “American Christianity.” And this is my 228th blog post that I’ve written since I fired it back up two years ago. Woo Hoo!!!
I have no particular topic in mind for this blog post other than as a celebration of three years on WordPress; however, I ran across a couple of verses this past Tuesday that I read in the book of Job on Tisha B’Av, the 9th of Av on the Jewish calendar (click on link to read my blog post on Tisha B’Av), that gave me pause for thought and consideration so I will start there.
The setting for the two verses in Job is right after all of the horrific tragedies hit Job and he was mourning in a pile of ashes (the ashes of his life pulled out from under him). After a rather lengthy dialogue between Job and his three “friends” that was going nowhere fast over the course of many chapters (see Job 3-31), we arrive at Chapter 32 where a young man named Elihu offered his advice to Job. Even though Elihu was young, he was full of God-given wisdom beyond his years, and the advice he gave to Job (see Job 32-37) was advice we can all learn from when we are in the midst of trials we just don’t understand, either.
Regarding the two verses that really stood out as I read Elihu’s monologue, the first verse is found in Job 36:18:
“Be careful that no one entices you by riches;
do not let a large bribe turn you aside.”
The older I get the more I find that money can buy just about anybody’s loyalty nowadays (although it seems an oxymoron to be able to “buy loyalty”). Loyalty to self, maybe, since money is god in America. Greed and the love of money has saturated the landscape and inundated the Church at large, and nobody seems to pay any attention to what Paul had to say to his protégé, a young pastor named Timothy, in 1 Timothy 6:10 which clearly states, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” Unfortunately, many folks in the Christian arena today in America are Biblically illiterate (in other words, they spend very little time reading or studying the Bible and applying it to their daily lives or taking seriously the basic tenets of Jesus’ teachings as well as the teachings of His disciples and including the apostle Paul). Instead, we live just like the rest of the culture while maybe going to church on Sunday morning. So why do we go to church on Sunday morning? Church attendance is not a prerequisite or guarantee to heaven. There are reasons to attend church, but as a “guarantee to heaven” is not one of them. And living like the rest of the culture all week long isn’t, either.
It seems as if our god is really money (greed, materialism) and all it can buy (people, possessions, etc.), as we certainly don’t live like we really believe the verse in Hebrews 13:5 that clearly states, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” No, we are seldom content with what we have and our society screams at us to buy “bigger, better, more, more, more.” We are never content. No matter how much we have we always want more. And we never, ever understand the truth that Jesus clearly stated when He said, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” So we serve money and claim to follow after God no matter how we get the money. And if we don’t believe that, think about how often we think about money and how we can get more of it as compared to how often we think about God and how to serve Him and others instead of ourselves.
The second verse closely follows the first one and is found in Job 36:21:
“Beware of turning to evil,
which you seem to prefer to affliction.”
When we are given a choice to do the right thing but it will cost us to do so (resulting in any kind of affliction including alienation, loss of popularity, loss of status, loss of money and/or possessions, loss of our job, or any other kind of loss), do we choose the safe path that will cause us no immediate harm and keep us a part of the “status quo” even though it is “evil” and capable of destroying someone else instead? Will we just turn a blind eye or lie or say nothing by our silence when we could correct a wrong that has been done to another by speaking up in their defense? I wrote about this very topic in a recent blog post titled, “When Silence Is Not Golden.”
Let me put it another way . . . would we forsake a family member, a friend, or a colleague if it was to our own benefit–financial or otherwise–as in spreading gossip meant to demean or destroy (which is at the core of gossip), planning someone’s harm, accepting a bribe for any reason, or screwing over a colleague for a promotion or for some other type of favoritism and/or acceptance? We don’t mind afflicting others as long as it doesn’t affect (or afflict) us and especially if it will benefit us in some way. We want to be on the receiving end of the “good stuff,” not on the painful, suffering end that we inflict on others. And we don’t much care about those we afflict as long as it is not us. So we lie, cheat, steal, gossip, maim, and destroy others for our own benefit in a myriad of ways. And we even smile most of the time while we are doing it. And then we sit in a pew on Sunday (or a couch at home) and think that makes it all A-Okay.
It’s not “A-Okay” . . . .
Most folks like to think of themselves as basically good, decent folks. After all, we only harm others if they harm us first (a little “tit-for-tat,” right?) or we harm them (gossip and passive-aggressive behavior are two favorite means of harming others) because we are jealous or envious, or we want what they have, or it will benefit us in some way–financially or other, or we feel self-righteous, or judgmental, or we just feel like being mean and nasty because we can be and they have no recourse, and the list goes on and on and on ad nauseam. Yeah, we are all just basically good, decent folks at heart . . . . R-i-g-h-t . . . .
Change starts with us . . . .
Is anybody listening?
“And that’s all I have to say about that” ~Forrest Gump
YouTube Video: “Glad” & “Well All Right” by Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton and crew at Madison Square Garden: