He said: “I am
‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“Make straight the way of the Lord,”’
as the prophet Isaiah said.”
Take a look around you and ask yourself, “Is the way of the LORD made straight?” I think a resounding answer, even in many of our own lives, would be “No, it isn’t.” Murder. Thievery. Homosexuality. Divorce. Adultery. Pornography. Witchcraft. Idolatry. Greed. Sloth. Gluttony. Drunkenness. Lewdness. Pride.
People claim to have a morality, but they base it on the changing views of society. They base it on whatever culture seems acceptable. They seem to think that morality is some man-made thing, and therefore it changes with the times. They never question the illogical premise behind that. They never ask, “Well, if it is man-made, how did it come about in the first place?” You see, to have a sense of morality, a knowing of wrong from right, you need someone to tell you wrong from right, and you need someone to hold you to that standard, otherwise anything is justifiable. As long as it’s culturally acceptable.
We talk of sin and righteousness as if these concepts are somehow man-made. I’ll grant you they are man abused. Tyrants of all sorts have justified all sorts of things by twisting these concepts to their own gain. Men like Hitler. Mao. Lenin. Stalin. Kings. Queens. Dictators. Generals. Preachers. Teachers. Parents. Politicians. Lawyers.
“Make straight the way of the Lord,”
Yet known of them dare bring up any evidence of where they get their standing from. If they did we’d all see these impostors for what they were. Liars. Cheats. Swindlers. False teachers. John the Baptist face a similar crowd of people back in Israel over 2,000 years ago. The priests and Levites of his day were so full of themselves. Puffed up with knowledge and lacking in understanding. He stood before them then and told them plainly what his mission was. He quoted Scripture they should have known. If they had had any relationship with God they would have understood.
People like to try and say that the culture back then is nothing like it is today, that such things like homosexuality were unheard of. Yet back in Exodus, we have God specifically telling people to quit in that very behavior. We try to hold ourselves up as different. New. What our society is like now is nothing like back then. What rubbish. The only thing different today from back then is that we can spread ideas faster than ever before. The ideas, though, have remained the same. The behavior. The wickedness men and women choose to engage in. The thought processes. Do you think that there weren’t atheists back then? People who didn’t believe in any god, much less the One True God? Back then they were just called what they were: rebels and heathens. Do you think Plato’s contemporaries were any different than our contemporaries? NAMBLA is made up of people who would love to go back to the grotesqueness of Greek society, with all its societal acceptances. Do you think Hitler is unique in his attempts to eradicate the Jews? Do you think Stalin is unique in his oppression of his citizens? Do you think Mao was unique in his application of communism? Do you think Marx was the first to propose such ideas? Dawkins isn’t the first (nor will be the last) to puff up man above God. Nietzsche wasn’t the first to put forth the idea of “the death of God” or “life-affirmation”.
Fundamentally the only difference between us and John the Baptist’s contemporaries is technology and time. Fundamentally, the ills we face today are no different then they were 100, 200, 400, 800, or even 2,000 years go. You could go back to Adam and Even and see the same problems repeating themselves. Murder. Thievery. Homosexuality. Divorce. Adultery. Pornography. Witchcraft. Idolatry. Greed. Sloth. Gluttony. Drunkenness. Lewdness. Pride. Most churches today aren’t fundamentally different from the Pharisees and Rabbis and priests and Levites, either. Constantly focused physical blessing. Land. Money. Power. Popularity. They were more concerned with looking good to as many people as possible instead of looking good to Him from whom all goodness flows. They care nothing of sacrifice. They care nothing of love. They care nothing of humility. Today we still haven’t made straight the way of the Lord. We continue to look to ourselves, to society, to people, for things such as affirmation, esteem, provision, and even our health. Sure, man can temporarily provide those things for us, but it is all fleeting. It is all vanity.
The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher;
“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”
What profit has a man from all his labor
In which he toils under the sun?
One generation passes away, and another generation comes;
But the earth abides forever.
The sun also rises, and the sun goes down,
And hastens to the place where it arose.
The wind goes toward the south,
And turns around to the north;
The wind whirls about continually,
And comes again on its circuit.
All the rivers run into the sea,
Yet the sea is not full;
To the place from which the rivers come,
There they return again.
All things are full of labor;
Man cannot express it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor the ear filled with hearing.
That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which it may be said,
“See, this is new”?
It has already been in ancient times before us.
There is no remembrance of former things,
Nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come
By those who will come after.
We pretend many things. We pretend to understand the weather, the climate, the origin of ourselves and all life on earth. We pretend to understand the cycles that seem to dominate this planet. We ask “Why?” when the very earth seems to open up and swallow us up. Destroying our cities, destroying lives, destroying hope. We run in terror when the very sky seems to want to destroy us, sucking us up with violent force, destroying all in its path – that is, except for the seemingly chosen things it doesn’t even touch. We board up homes, build up levees and dikes, and pray when the heavens open up and rain down in such force as make the seas swell and the rains fall. We fly planes above them, trying to study what makes them tick. We pretend to understand how they are formed and why they choose the paths they choose. We shudder in terror as the lightening flashes and the thunder rolls, both terrified and in awe at the raw power on display.
No, nothing has changed. Ideas travel faster, and we seem to have a handle on recording our knowledge instead of passing it down orally, but nothing truly fundamental has changed about humans. We still choose the easy ways. We still seek the path of least resistance as if we are on some sort of lightening bolt of sin and, because it is easier to just go with the flow, we have drafted up all sorts of idiotic theories as to why God doesn’t really exist, as to how morality is reached by consensus and not something absolute and unchanging, or – within the church world – how we are all fundamentally created sinners (in contradiction to the text you are supposed to be teaching) and that it’s okay. Grace will see you through. No, God’s unmerited favor will not see you through. However, your choices and actions will send you straight to hell.
“Make straight the way of the Lord,”
We talk of purpose driven lives, of crazy love, and of blessings of all sorts, yet no one talks about repentance. No one talks of truly being like Christ. No one talks about how we were made in perfection and are condemned to hell because the choices we make do not line up with the way we are supposed to be living our lives. No one talks about rejecting the things of this world because no one wants to accept the things of God. No one wants to talk about sacrifice. Hardship. Trials. Tribulations. No one wants to talk about these things because they are not popular. Do you think Peter’s wife was comfortable with him walking away from his day job? Do you think the fathers of the first 12 were proud of their sons for following Christ? I imagine not. Our own fathers today don’t teach their children to reject the world, they don’t teach their children that to follow Christ means to sacrifice everything including your family. We have fathers who don’t even want their own children and take their girlfriends and wives to abortion clinics to murder the unborn, all in the name of choice and consequence-free sin. These men are worse than those who abandon their children, I think. At least those children were given a chance at life, to make something better of themselves, to have a chance at becoming Sons and Daughters of God Almighty.
Choice. Do you not think induced abortions weren’t common? Do you think a clothes-hanger had to be invented first before someone decided they had a right to try and kill their own child? Do you think disgusting parents who degrade their children for making mistakes are only a modern phenomenon? We are taught in Scripture to not bring our children to wrath.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
Yet we belittle them. We antagonize them. We berate them. Instead of showing love we show condemnation. Instead of teaching repentance we teach only discipline. Instead of modeling God we model Lucifer. It’s no wonder modern abortions are so popular. It’s no wonder we have a modern culture of death. It’s no wonder there is no real reform in the penal code. We only seek to punish. We only seek to hate.
Yes, fornication is sin and it should not be acceptable, but what is done is done. Rejoice instead of the life before you. Stand up and make straight the way of the Lord. Teach the next generation better. Model Christ better. This is not a letting off the hook for the sin, there will be an accounting for that, but God is the final arbitar. Call sin sin, but do so with a loving heart, a tender hand, and show them exactly what it means to be Christian. What it means to make straight the way of the Lord.