A common phrase used by my mother in the 1970's to describe someone who was very upset was to say they were 'a basket case'. It meant someone unable to cope emotionally with some bad news or they were emotionally torn apart by the stresses of an event in their life.
But the expression was first used in hushed tones among medical professionals during World War I to describe a soldier who had lost all 4 limbs, meaning their existence was limited (in those days) to a basket - they were a basket case. Over the course of a mere 50 years it had changed to mean an emotional condition in which someone could not cope. My mother had no idea how out of place and offensive her expression would have been if she had called her friend a basket case a mere 50 years earlier.
Similarly, curse words once never heard in polite company when I was growing up are now commonly used by even school children, by adults in conversation in public, in movies, and TV. Things once private between a man and woman are in full view on the Internet. Like my mom who had no idea where the phrase 'basket case' came from, many people under about age 30 have little idea society once shunned the use of those words, nor do they understand the sanctity of the bedroom.
Modern culture has no concept of things once held sacred, nor I doubt in many cases, even understand the concept of the sacred. (Sacred means holy, or set apart for God, or something pertaining to God)
I ended last week talking about how in ancient times the Greeks and Romans respected the Jews because of their sense of the sacred: Absolute values which came through God's law, which led to upright and moral individuals and families. Early in the church it was the same for Christians, but in our day Christians are not respected for their sense of the sacred: Moral uprightness, solid families, and honest business dealings.
How has that been lost?
How does a society lose knowledge of the sacred? - by choice
In Romans 1:20-21 Paul tells us the most basic and foundational form of revelation from God is that He made the natural world:
"For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse. Because though they knew God as creator, they did not want to retain Him in their knowledge, but became vain and useless in their thinking, and their foolish* heart was darkened."
(*The word 'fool' is defined in Psalm 14:1 as a person who says 'there is no God', and has many other traits, but Paul's use of it here is a direct reference to Ps 14:1. The people have rejected the revelation God created the world and therefore do not want to retain Him in their minds. Jesus also referenced a fool being one who has rejected God in Matthew 5:22, where He said if someone calls another a fool he is in danger of hell - we are to judge a person's fruit in life, but not their heart, for that is the realm known only by God.)
When you accept God as Creator which means you were created and will one day 'meet your maker', a sense of respect for God and the sacred is in your heart. To reject Him as creator rejects the sacred at a core level in one's being.
We can trace the rejection of God as the Creator back to the theory of evolution, which is the rejection of God turned into science. Once a person rejects God as Creator, it means they must believe all things happen by chance and human life therefore has no value. If all things happen by chance then an individual's life has no purpose, no value, no reason for being - each person is an accident of nature.
Evolution also means...
Imperfect humans can be eliminated because evolution says only the fit survive - so unwanted babies, people who are imperfect physically, mentally, in their religion or politics, can be marginalized or eliminated. And because everything happened by chance it means morals, values, truth, and the knowledge of right and wrong are inventions of man and therefore completely subject to each person and completely arbitrary based on circumstances. There are no absolutes, you can make up the rules as you go along.
In direct conflict
In direct conflict to this notion that all things are chance and morals and ethics are situational is that civilized nations believe in the rule of law. Laws define absolutes and the ramifications of violating those absolutes.
When the belief all morals and ethics are situational and up to each person meets the rule of law, something has to give. Either the law is laid down and a person learns something, or they work to change the laws to fit their particular belief. For that group a victim mentality emerges - "I want to park in this spot overnight for free because it is close to my apartment, but the law says I can't park there longer than 3 hours. I am victimized because I can't afford to pay for 24 hours each day on the meter"...and so it goes. A victim culture rather than submit to the absolute rule of law - pay the fine and park somewhere else.
In the US the rule of law was formalized in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, derived from the Judeo-Christian religion, founded upon the 10 Commandments. But when a people are taught in homes, schools, and society to reject God and want to do their own thing, as these people grow up and rise to power they work in places and ways to move society away from absolutes and the rule of law, to the arbitrary application of law to fit their desires or agendas. This leads to courts that make law rather than merely interpret law, and so on - and society loses all sense of the sacred, of absolute truth, or 'law and order'.
When God is rejected as Creator and Savior, and evolution is substituted, the knowledge of the sacred is rejected and eventually lost. The thinking of the collective is what matters - people who think otherwise need to be dealt with.
For those of us who have retained God in our thinking
In many circles, hearing a great teaching about a spiritual concept is the main point of their walk, and think that is all there is.
And in the first half of Ephesians Paul writes of similar lofty and amazing heavenly revelations: We've been raised to the heavenly places, adopted by the Father through Jesus, we are seated with Him in the heavenlies, are being raised up as a living temple for God, and that He will strengthen us by His Spirit to know love that is beyond natural knowing. Those lofty revelations are through the mid-point of chapter 4.
But the whole second half of the letter is about how that lofty spiritual knowledge should be applied to daily living, starting in 4:17-32: Stop sleeping around, stop lying to each other, stop being angry with each other, forgive one another, stop stealing and go get a job, stop cursing, put on the new man as you've learned Christ. In chapters 5 & 6 it is about marriage, children, and work. Don't just exalt in great teaching, apply it to change your life.
I've said many times that righteousness comes through faith in Christ, but it remains unproven. God designed His righteousness to be manifest and matured within relationships. Anyone can say they love God. Anyone can say they are born again. But do their relationships prove that out? That is the evidence of their righteousness.
And that is why healthy family based churches that meet in homes produces healthy people - their righteousness is proven and matured within the framework of relationships with others who are also seeking growth in Christ. To sit and hear a sermon from the same person week after week fills the mind and heart with revelation - the first half of Ephesians - but there is no relationship in just sitting there and listening.
It is the healthy combination of righteousness in the heart walked out within a network of relationships with others that gives us respect for Christ in the other people in our lives, and undergirds all we do with that sense of respect and the sacred.
Some thoughts...new subject next week...blessings,
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