Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Rules for Thee and Not for Me

“Do not preach” — thus they preach — “one should not preach of such things; disgrace will not overtake us.”

The only thing our society will not tolerate is intolerance. Unless it is society’s intolerance to those who refuse to tolerate sin. Then intolerance is just fine.

This is not a new development.

The prophet Micah encountered the same sort of intellectual incoherence and moral inconsistency when he warned Israel and Judah of coming judgment. Speaking the very words of God, he said, “Against this family I am devising disaster, from which you cannot remove your necks.” He added, “In that day they shall take up a taunt song against you and moan bitterly, and say, ‘We are utterly ruined.’ ”

Now, nobody wants to hear disaster is coming, or that very shortly indeed they can count on their life’s work being obliterated, their society crushed, their fields and property seized, and their misery making them the subject of mockery. That’s a tough pill to swallow. So the elites in Israel tried the time-honored strategy of shooting the messenger. “Do not preach,” they ... er ... preached.

Speaking authoritatively was obviously not the problem: the “preachers” were happy to do it themselves. It was the subject they disliked: “one should not preach of such things.”

But why not, if they are true?

We have a message for the world that we call “good news”, and with good reason. But the gospel entrĂ©e comes with a bitter appetizer; a dose of hard truth that burns on the way down. Those who have already realized their need skip right by it, unoffended; it only reiterates things about themselves they have already discovered and from which they long to be free. But for the self-righteous, the deniers and the confirmed worldlings — in fact, to all those who are in the process of perishing — the preaching of the cross is folly.

Thus they resort to making “rules for thee and not for me”. When the world is not allowed to shoot the messenger, it must find other ways to make him be silent.

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