Was reading Gregory Hood’s post and this passage in particular struck me with reference to Christianity in the West:
The spiritual core of the contemporary West is thus a kind of depraved burlesque show, with God alternately denied, turned against us, or somehow both simultaneously.
The phrase “turned against us” in particular struck me. It made me consider the opposite: what does a civilization that imagines God on their side talk like?
Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking. ~Eisenhower, message to troops before D-Day
I don’t mean to whitewash the Allies during WWII, but I do think that civilization was in a better state then than it is now. So this is a worthwhile comparison.
Note the use of the word beseech. That is a beta word, and I mean that as the highest compliment. Beseeching is begging.
There’s a line in a hymn my church favors—the title of this post: “Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven.” Sacrifice empowers us to ask the Almighty’s aid.
Why? Perhaps the place to start is: why not? Why do people who ostensibly believe in a loving God fear to invoke His blessings?
Sin, duh. The same reason you don’t ask for a raise after you lost the big account, or your allowance after you crashed the family car.
There’s an uncertainty in peoples’ minds: if I approach God as I am, I may receive the asked-for blessing, but I may instead get (well-deserved) divine wrath. Better to try and slog it out on my own.
It’s the uncertainty that stops them from approaching. When people are actually enduring adversity they eventually wise up and humble themselves. When things are OK for now but declining, they tend to live on a sea of denial and procrastinate consequences to the future.
The remedy to this is to take the uncertainty out of it.
Sacrifice is hard. That’s the point. Money, time, pride…it hurts to let any of those go. It’s so hard that you have to change your heart just to be able to do it. And that is the real objective of sacrifice: changing hearts. If you are ready and willing to accept justified divine wrath for your sins, then that overcomes the one obstacle stopping you from approaching the throne of grace for…well, grace.
The goal here is not to win over God to our side with a show of sacrifice. Rather, it is for us to join His side—and to know it, such that we fear nothing God will do, because we agree with it, even if it means the end of us:
This is why it seems harder to believe that God is on the side of the West than it used to be. Not because we sin—everyone does—but because we’re not certain that we’re on His side. What have we sacrificed? Not lust or pride, at any rate.