"Vice is a monster of so frightful mien, As to be hated needs but to be seen; Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, we first endure, then pity, then embrace."
-Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man
“A long habit of not thinking a thing WRONG, gives it a superficial appearance of being RIGHT, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom."
-Thomas Paine, Common Sense
The first time I read this opening salvo of Common Sense was in the airport on the way to SC last month. Those words gripped me. As they must have gripped their readers almost 250 years ago.
These words made me pause, and then reread over again several times. And then post them on various social media venues, because that is how you really know something is important these days. (snort)
A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong.
Superficial appearance of being right.
Formidable outcry in the defense of custom.
I really wonder how many practices in modern Christendom are being hailed as not wrong, which gives them a superficial appearance of being right?
The clarion call of tolerance. Tolerance of immorality in all its forms. Tolerance in the form of spiritual shallowness and ignorance because of an unwillingness to read and obey the Bible. The Bible doesn't fit into our parameters of how we feel God should act or be. We don't agree with something so we simply ignore that point.
We focus on the judge not part of Matthew 7, but disregard the call to discern between good and evil, false and true. Same chapter.
Modern Christianity in many respects would rather agree with what unbelievers say about God, God's words, God's character, God's acts and God's will, than to dig into Scripture to see for themselves what God Himself has said.
We have endured, pitied, and embraced a whole lot of unBiblical thinking, practices and even sin.
We need to wake up. We need to rock the boat. We need to give up the wrong that looks right on the surface.
Jonathan Edwards, in the early 1740s, preached a sermon that is still read today. Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God. Obviously that wouldn't go over too well in our day and age. God isn't angry. God is compassionate and tolerant and loving. People aren't sinners. People deep down are good.
Jonathan Edwards' listeners didn't respond by throwing him out of the pulpit. They didn't send hate mail (or emails or FB statuses) They didn't argue or disagree because it didn't fit in with their lifestyle or their views.
They cried out, "what must I do to be saved?" Saved from judgement. Saved from God's inevitable wrath. Saved from hell. Saved from their behavior here and now.
This sermon became a hallmark of what is now referred to, even in secular circles, as the Great Awakening.
Just a wonder, but would our American Revolution gained as much traction if this (spiritual) awakening hadn't begun first in the hearts of men?
Change will never be effected if we don't believe change is necessary. Change will never be effected if we remain satisfied with superficiality and the status quo.
We need to pray for discernment to see things how God sees them-both good and bad. We need to use God's terminology. We need to be real with ourselves, honest with our own hearts. We need to start with our own sin. We need to pray for courage to stand up against wrong that we have grown accustomed to out of habit.
Slavery, immorality, spiritual ignorance, lukewarm hearts.
All 21st century problems. First world problems. Third world problems. Our problems. Our sin.
To borrow a phrase from the BFF, let's start a new year's revolution. And let's start it today.