When Hope Fades

Your heart feels heavy, almost like it might stop beating…

The world is a mess of contradictions right now. Some topics and opinions are okay, others aren’t. Some social media posts are censored, others aren’t. Our movements are controlled due to the covid-19 outbreak, and we begin to see ever more clearly how we are not, in fact, free humans like we thought we were. We are controlled, censored and punished if we step out of line.

I am not slinging proverbial stones here. Some of the boundaries and decisions are quite necessary and right. Others aren’t. But the truth which has emerged so clearly is that our lives are not our own. As humans we live under worldly governments who have the elected right to change their policies, their laws and thus our lives and the consequences dished out to us should we put a foot wrong.

America, for instance, was founded as a Christian nation. Sadly, it has forsaken its rich Christian heritage. The rise and promotion of abortion, homosexuality, transgenderism, and the like and the increasing censorship of a Christian or conservative viewpoint proves this fact. These changes may be seen as freedom to some, but are they really?

The old frog in the water analogy rings true here. You know, the analogy that if you put a frog directly into boiling water it will jump out. But, on the other hand, if you put a frog in cool water and slowly heat it up, it will not notice the dramatic temperature change and will boil to death. Whether this analogy is entirely factual or not is of no consequence. The point that this analogy is making still stands. A large dramatic change will result in uproar, whereas changes of smaller increments will not be as noticeable or as fought against.

We are all slaves to something. The Bible only gives us two options, regarding what we are ultimately slaves to: sin or righteousness. Anything and everything else stems from these two ultimate masters. Romans 6:15-23 reads:

“What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

To a large extent we may be bound by the rulers of this world and the consequences of either obeying them or disobeying them. Yet, our ultimate allegiance is not to them; should not be to them, but to God. I, for one, am grateful about this. Because if this past year has shown me anything it is how easily and dramatically our freedoms can be revoked and the powers-that-be can make overarching decisions, either for good or for ill, which affect and ultimately control individuals, families, countries and the world.

The truth is that one day all will be put right. The rich and the powerful will fall in a day, when the Lord Jesus returns and their riches and supposed power will be of no consequence. It is freeing; healing even, to realise this. There is an ultimate power. There is an ultimate standard of what is good, right and holy. To rebel against God is to rebel against all that is good and to simultaneously embrace the ever-changing standards of ruling, sinful humans. Because without God; without an ultimate, eternal standard of what is right and wrong, good and evil, there is no standard aside from an arbitrarily, self-reasoned standard.

As the Apostle Paul wrote from his chains and imprisonment, in Philippians 1:21:

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Paul understood that our healing, our wholeness, our purpose and our ultimate restoration and vindication comes from God. He is our standard, our authority, our judge and our saviour. In this world full of chaos, backstabbing, lying, control and deception, let us look to him alone as our standard. Anything less won’t bring the promised freedom, but rather further enslavement to the only other option: slavery to sin.

It starts here. It starts with us. It starts with choosing God’s way every minute of every day. This may not change the world or make our lives easier, but it will change us. And ultimately it will save our souls.

Posted 11 January 2021