I have two electronic friends I want to start with today.
The first recently posted a challenging article on her blog, asking why, if God was going to put innocents in the Garden, why He would give them the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and then tell them NOT to eat of it? Now, this is no attack on her- she would go on to answer the question, answering with the next logical question, until she stripped the whole story down to Man and God, in fellowship in the Garden- and who made that fellowship come apart.
The second? Well, I love her dearly, but if you follow her FB posts, you get the impression that she at the very least doesn't apply Luke 9:55 to herself. Many posts attack evildoers- some spiritual, some political- with a lot of venom. And on the rare occasion that a friend cautions her about the difference between the sinner and the sin, she makes it clear she has no intention of handing over the judge's gavel.
This is a story about responsibility. The first friend started her story questioning God's responsibility; she ended it by application to a situation in her own life- where an anger at someone was stripped down to a pain SHE felt, an attitude she then cultivated, and when she took it down to her OWN responsibility in the matter, the whole thing just seemed to evaporate.
Does the other friend have something she needs to peel away- some responsibility in the matters she rails against? I don't know. One thing I do know, that as much as I would hate to quote a mind-addled atheist on a Sunday message, I'm about to. My second friend should listen to a song I NEVER let play on my radio- Billy Joel's Only The Good Die Young. In the midst of his musical poem about how terrible the Catholic Church is for not allowing indiscriminate sex, he says one line that makes an awful lot of sense:
Well your mother told you all that I could give you was a reputation
Aw she never cared for me
But did she ever say a prayer for me?
As I woke up Sunday morning I listened to part of a talk given by the President of Oklahoma Wesleyan University. In it, he first told a Story about opening a legislative session with a prayer and a short devotion- for which he was given several instructions. The second of which was, "don't touch on anything political." He used that as his opener, asking, "Who among you WROTE that?" He went on to question them on when it was that "they" decided that the biological fact of a baby's life, the biological fact of gender, or the Biblical requirement of marriage being one man and one woman, became "political". In other words when reality became "debatable". He had preceded that with another story on Responsibility.
Apparently a chaplain at his school had preached a sermon on 1 Corinthians 13- the "Love" chapter- and afterwards, a student had let the chaplain know he had been "offended". The President asked for a transcript, knowing that his chaplin wasn't the kind to be sarcastic or offensive, to see if there was any reason. He found none. He also writes an op-ed for a local paper, and in it he discussed the issue- mainly on the lines of, "You come to a university to be challenged" and "this is a university, not a day care". In other words, life is tough, face it. You may have seen the letter, as someone sent it to Glen Beck, and he released it over Thanksgiving that year, challenging everyone to read it in their homes before the meal. It got 3 million FB views in a couple of weeks.
This is all about responsibility. Why was the student offended? The President surmised in his letter that it was the student's own conscience bothering him. Perhaps he had not love, as Paul said. But instead of challenging himself, asking himself what bothered him about it, he tried to silence the chaplain. The lawmakers apparently didn't want to hear about their responsibility in people debating what is life, what is a man, what is a woman. My second friend doesn't want to ask the question, "Did I pray for Stephen Hawking BEFORE he died?" (for one example).
My first friend? She was honest enough to realize at the end, that every question was a finger pointing at herself.
As I prayed this morning, it struck me that God once again set an example in all this. My friend could have easily turned her original question into, "Why, God, don't You take responsibility for all this? After all, YOU put that tree in the Garden..."
And God would answer, "I DID. I died to pay for it, so you wouldn't HAVE to."
He didn't stop at taking responsibility for His Own actions (which were righteous anyway). He peeled back the layers to OUR responsibility- and STILL paid for it.