Monday, November 14, 2011

In Search Of Truth, The Self Destruct Code

(For the next three weeks I've invited Pastor, geek and friend Nathan J. Norman to lead us on our "search for truth". He'll be taking us through an interesting look at the book of Habakkuk. Enjoy! -Paeter Frandsen)

Nathan J. Norman, Guest Writer
“The Self Destruct Code”

If you’re anything like me you probably have a variety of social circles you interact with. I’ve got people I interact with in college, church, ministry, family, in my job and even in my comic book store. Some of you also have sports, hobbies and a variety of other places that you socialize. But I’m sure you’ve often looked around and have seen some very upsetting things.

You know of people getting drunk, doing drug, and having sex outside of marriage . . . and they’re having fun doing all those things. And you wait a little while, assuming that consequences will come upon them immediately, and it never happens. They just seem to be having a really good time all-around! And if you step back and watch the news, it’s the same thing. Our culture embraces wickedness and nothing seems to be stopping it. So it begs the question: How should believers deal with a wicked culture?

Believers should deal with a wicked culture by faithfully waiting for the Lord to bring judgment via its own wickedness. When an entire culture, or a part of a culture turns completely wicked you and I are not strong enough to change it, it has to be the Lord that puts an end to it. In Judah, Habakkuk had the same problem. Read Habakkuk 1:1-4:

The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw.
2 How long, LORD, must I call for help
and You do not listen, or cry out to You about violence
and You do not save?
3 Why do You force me to look at injustice? Why do You tolerate wrongdoing? Oppression and violence are right in front of me.
Strife is ongoing, and conflict escalates.
4 This is why the law is ineffective and justice never emerges.
For the wicked restrict the righteous; therefore, justice comes out perverted.

Habakkuk felt like God wasn’t doing anything! He looked around and he saw injustice, he saw violence, and he saw that the good people were being oppressed, and the wicked were prospering! All this happened after the evil king Manasseh, but before the good king Josiah’s reforms had started.

And things haven’t changed much in today’s culture, have they? I’m not talking about a few people doing some bad things, I’m talking about an entire culture just glorying in its own wickedness. Abortion has claimed the unborn lives of over 40 million persons! Our society has taken God’s beautiful gift of sex and exchanged it for a corrupted imitation. We are so materialistic, that we care more about a pair of jeans than starving orphans.

So, God responded to Habakkuk and told him what He was doing. Read Habakkuk 1:5-11.

5 Look at the nations and observe-- be utterly astounded!
For something is taking place in your days
that you will not believe when you hear about it.
6 Look! I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter, impetuous nation that marches across the earth's open spaces to seize territories not its own.
7 They are fierce and terrifying; their views of justice and sovereignty stem from themselves.
8 Their horses are swifter than leopards and more fierce than wolves of the night. Their horsemen charge ahead; their horsemen come from distant lands. They fly like an eagle, swooping to devour.
9 All of them come to do violence; their faces are set in determination. They gather prisoners like sand.
10 They mock kings, and rulers are a joke to them. They laugh at every fortress and build siege ramps to capture it.
11 Then they sweep by like the wind and pass through. They are guilty; their strength is their god.

Before Habakkuk had even complained, God was already working on a plan to punish the wickedness of Judah. He would raise up the Chaldeans . . . that is the Babylonians, a group more wicked than Judah, and He would use them to come and eventually punish the wickedness of Judah. It’s kinda scary stuff when you look around at your culture today isn’t it?

So what does this look like: waiting patiently on the Lord to bring Judgment?

It’s like a kid buying pot. Now, I’m just talking about a regular, run of the mill kid looking to get high off the stuff. Is it wrong? Sure (it’s illegal, alters your will-power and self-control). But let me ask you this, Is this kid as wicked as the person he’s buying it from? Certainly not, the drug dealer is giving a large number of people drugs! And is the street drug dealer as bad as his boss, and his boss’s supplier, and so on and so forth. Probably not. The higher up the level you go, the more wicked a person probably is in this scenario. Before you go too high, you’ll actually find someone who’s murdered before! And that brings us back to the kid buying pot. He’s not selling drugs to kids. He’s not bribing people, or beating them up, or committing murder. But he has willingly brought himself into contact with people who do. And thus, when judgment comes it will come from those more wicked than himself.

In the same way, when a culture is wicked, it’s wickedness attracts the wickedness of other cultures upon itself and brings about its own judgment. We as believers, then need to be patient, wait on the Lord and stay out of the way.

But this is probably too passive of a view for you, let me give you another example. Let’s say you live in Florida with all your family and friends, and a hurricane is coming. You know that you have to evacuate, so you help your friends and family members the best you can, to pack up and head out. But some of your friends won’t go. So you help board up their house. Still some other friends refuse to board up their houses. Even worse, some of your friends won’t even go into their houses, and they walk around, refusing that a hurricane is coming.

In the same way, as Christians, we can try and share Christ with those around us. We can try and be a good influence. But at the end of the day, you can’t change the culture any more than you can stop a hurricane.

A couple I know lives in the part of the country known as tornado alley. During a really bad storm, they were told to take shelter. So the wife took her son to the neighbor’s basement. The husband wouldn’t go though. A tree came right through the window where he was sitting.

Fortunately he wasn’t hurt, and in the same way sometimes the wicked are hurt, sometimes not . . . sometimes they get it, sometimes they don’t . . . but you can bet your house that the husband in the story changed his ways and now takes shelter when he’s supposed to.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you probably have two huge objections. You might be thinking, “Are you saying to do nothing in the face of a wicked culture?” No! Absolutely not. We are called to live faithfully in good and wicked cultures. Live faithfully to God where you are, in the place God has called you to.

Right now, if you’re in high school or college . . . live faithfully there. If you have a job in an office . . . live faithfully to God there. If you demonstrate you can do that, he might one day move you to another place, where he will also call you to live faithfully. Most people can’t even get their own lives under control, let-alone the rest of the world’s problems. God will give you whatever amount of influence you demonstrate you can faithfully handle.

But you might also be thinking, “Wait! Why is God, who is infinitely good, using the wicked Babylonians, or wicked groups to judge a culture?” And to answer that question, you’ll have to tune in next week . . . because that is the prophet Habakkuk’s follow-up question as well. Of course you could always skip ahead and read the rest of Habakkuk on your own.

I know that many of you watch tv, or walk around your schools or offices and see so much that is wrong. And you wonder, why doesn’t God do anything about this? But do you really think that God doesn’t notice what you notice? Of course he does . . . and if we can learn anything from Habakkuk, we know that God was working on this problem long before you even noticed it.

Believers should deal with a wicked culture by faithfully waiting for the Lord to bring judgment via its own wickedness. Of course you want to see immediate actions, but praise God that He doesn’t. If He did, we’d all be dead and done for! So let me leave you with this image and this thought. Live faithfully, because sin carries with it, its own self-destruct code.

On the starship Enterprise, a self destruct code can be entered by a senior office, and the ship will blow up. But is it the code itself that causes the destruction? No. That code travels down to the engine room, releases the anti-matter into the matter chamber and explodes the warp-core, which damages the ship, that in turn sets off a chain reaction that ultimately results in the ship being destroyed. In the same way, your sin puts you into contact with destructive forces that will rip your life apart and hurt you. Live faithfully to God, and don’t enter the self-destruct code.

Nathan J. Norman is the Senior Pastor at a church in Michigan and the author of The Silver Dance and Untold: Alliances, based on his fantasy novel, Untold.

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