Saturday, August 13, 2016

Our Enemies Are By Themselves

A few years ago, an acquaintance in Northern Ontario was asked to take the funeral of a local man who had passed away unexpectedly. Nobody could say for sure whether the dead man did or didn’t know the Lord, so the speaker opted to give a clear gospel message.

When he was done, an older relative of the deceased, tears in his eyes, approached him to thank him for taking the funeral. To all appearances, this man was a secular success story; someone who, while apparently decent and moral, had shown little or no interest in the things of God for many years.

“I believe every word you just said,” he told the speaker. “I’ve wasted my life.”

Wow. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that story since I heard it.

In another era and another context, Moses paints a poignant picture of those who opted to seek out other gods than the God of Israel:
“For their rock is not as our Rock;
our enemies are by themselves.
For their vine comes from the vine of Sodom
and from the fields of Gomorrah;
their grapes are grapes of poison; their clusters are bitter;
their wine is the poison of serpents and the cruel venom of asps.”
The psalmist says God gave wine to “gladden the heart of man”, but the wine of the false gods of romantic love, success, popularity or prosperity is the venom of asps. There is no lasting happiness to be had from it. Bitterness is the inevitable outcome.

Romantic love is chimeric at best even in this life, and wholly futile when pursued with someone who will spend forever on the far side of the “great chasm fixed between”. Earthly success is meaningless in eternity. Popularity and prosperity are seasonal and wholly outside our control. To the extent that any of us pursue the wine of such false gods and insist on drinking it we will one day find ourselves acknowledging, “I’ve wasted my life”.

The rock of those who serve false gods is not like our Rock. Our enemies — and our friends who live their lives in pursuit of the same useless ends — are by themselves.

What a lonely, lonely fate.

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