At the risk of sounding like my mother… What in heavens name has happened to kids today?! (And by kids that would translate to anyone younger than she was.) I realize that with that question, I paint a broad brush stroke. But quite possibly, it’s not broad enough.
For my family of four, all home right now, it takes exceptional fortitude and a measure of luck to find a movie we can all enjoy. I’m usually the sticking point, not wanting violence, rough language or even too much corrupt behavior. What ever happened to the feel-good inspirational movie that imparts a lesson? (Akeelah and the Bee, The Blindside, Wonder) Sadly, I conclude… it’s a sign of our times.
Back to my premise…
What I find most appalling is not what shocks my young adult kids, but rather what DOESN’T shock them. I’d like to think the roots of their unsurprised acceptance can be traced to virtuous attitudes such as tolerance, non-judgement, and grace. But…still.
The way I see it, debauchery is rampant and it’s all supposed to be ok. It’s not a term we even use today but debauchery means to have immoral conduct or be practicing harmful things or doing offensive things and could include activities like drunkenness, drug abuse, and sexual immorality etc. It goes without saying that debauchery keeps close company with all kinds of moral decay.
A Lowered Bar
While we may not agree on what behavior is shocking or even wrong, we can agree that in general, the bar has been lowered. The tent of what is acceptable to society in 2020 is enormous and getting bigger by the day. God where are you?
I have no intention of declaring what is right or wrong. Conviction and judgement is God’s alone. Instead, I’ve been thinking about as Christians, how we appropriately live in the morally slippery culture of our day. Clearly, we can’t effectively ignore it, legislate it, or avoid it.
You Do You
In our post modern world, guilt is no longer relevant. In an age of talk shows and Hollywood, we celebrate what years ago would have been shameful. “You do you,” we proclaim. No guilt trip needed. Stuff the lessons of the church, the objective truth of scripture, the influence of your parents or un-evolved friends. You decide what’s right for you and march to that drummer. End of story.
And that… breaks the heart of God. Because that isn’t the end of the story. That promise is empty. It’s a lie that doesn’t work, will never work and leads to hopeless despair.
Guilt vs. Shame
Here’s the rub. There is a difference between guilt and shame. With guilt… you broke a rule, that’s bad. Shame goes beyond guilt and says… you broke a rule, YOU are bad. Shame reveals your aspiration to be worth something to have value and significance. To matter. Because that’s how God created you. In today’s society it’s easy to justify anything making it simple to bury the guilt. But you have no capability to rid your sense of shame. Only a Redeemer can erase that.
Psalm 130 Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; 2 Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. 3 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. 5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. 6 I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. 7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. 8 He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.
Psalm 130 is the gospel in a nutshell. Here’s my rough paraphrase. We’re sinking. (Verses 1,2) Nothing we can do prevents us from sinking. But the Lord offers us a rope. (Verses 3,4) We hang onto the rope which is a process, a refining process. (Verses 5,6) But finally and certainly our hope is restored and by His unfailing love He redeems us in the end. All shame is gone. (Verses 7,8)
Urgency and Purpose
How do we live in the morally corrupt culture of today? With urgency and purpose. The way I see it, nothing has changed except the importance of our mission. We have always been called to live in the world, but not of the world. And because morality has degraded, our call as followers of Christ becomes even more critical. In the darkness even a little light will shine.
John 15:19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Gracious Redeemer, We praise you for your perfect plan. Forgive us for our foolish thinking and short sighted vision. We can’t even solve our problem of shame without you. In this world of increasing moral decay may our discomfort motivate us instead of angering us. Thank you for your objective standard found in Your infallible word. But oh my, do we fall short. Thank you though, that you offer us a rope to climb out of this wretched mess. Thank you, that we can know you! Help us to live like it. As Your image bearers, may we reflect Your light to a shameful and desperate world. Amen.