[This blog post is part of a series. Read the previous post here.]
The last two weeks I have been writing a series, using the hacker imagery of “gray hats.” Be sure to go back and read the previous blog posts by clicking here and here.
So, what if we think we are doing good, because the culture says something is good? What if we are just joining in the Facebook and Twitter frenzy on an issue and trying to help convince other people of what we think is good? What if we think the Bible is “old fashioned” on some principle, and we just want to find a way for people to be happy with their life?
Read Psalm 1 (again). The end of the psalm says that the wicked will not stand on the day of judgement before God, and they will not be able to stand in the crowd of those who have followed God with their life. Why? What are they missing? If they thought they were doing good, why would God not pardon that?
If anyone decides to rewrite God’s teachings to fit their perspective of the culture, then it is no longer God’s teaching - it is theirs. And they do not have the ability to see all outcomes, to know what is truly good and what may only seem good at the time. Truth and facts don’t always feel good, but they are right. And in their correctness and accuracy, they are good guides for decision making, even if we don’t like the facts or don’t feel good about what the truth reveals. So if we abandon God’s truth for something that ‘feels’ good to us, we are on dangerous ground.
For example, we may think that human rights and social justice are good things. There may even be aspects of what we fight for in them that are good according to God’s teaching. But there is also a problem. Often, the idea of “human rights” is extended beyond mutual respect for persons in society, and it is pointed toward God as if He OWES us something. We presume we have a right to question Him and a right to demand healing or provision or some other answer from Him. The truth of the matter is, He owes us NOTHING. Our very existence is a gift. (For further learning on this idea read the book of Job in the Bible, and see what Job learns at the end.)
If we are studying God’s Word, if we are content that He owes us nothing and trust that He knows best, then we will be delighted by Him, delighted by His promises, and delighted by His presence even in the most difficult times. We will be delighted for the grace that placed us in His care, and delighted to consider whatever situations we experience. We will be delighted to share what we can with others as an expression of our delight that God has provided for us. We will be delighted that no matter how desperate or fierce the challenges we face, His presence satisfies and comforts us more than any “human rights” laws or cultural recognition could.
If we find ourselves discontent and frustrated with God, or if we find ourselves redefining the words of the Bible or the moral principles of God to try and bring comfort or validation or “modernize” the faith, we will find ourselves more and more reactive, and closer and closer to the mocker’s seat. If we are marching for causes and demanding rights we have never been promised in the Bible, we risk traveling down the path of the wicked, thinking we are bringing social justice. If we trample authority and disrespect the position of others because we disagree with their position, we are standing in a sinful place of our own pride and judgement.
Whenever we pursue human rights, in human effort and with human standards, we worship the idol of rights and just start picking fights. Look at any Facebook or Twitter feed or public forum. We do not discuss and learn and grow from opposing ideas; we are off the rails because we are on the wicked trail, and we are all watching and learning and being entertained by the dark art of mockery.
Let me bring this home a bit more. The Bible says we are to heal the sick, to cast out demons, to provide for the poor and the needy, and to care for the widow and the orphan. The Bible says my God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19). It doesn’t say that President Trump supplies my needs, or President Obama supplies my needs, or the government, or my employer, or my welfare office, or my meals on wheels, or my affordable healthcare, or my rich neighbor up the street, or my lottery ticket. It says my GOD shall supply them, and the promise in Psalm 1 is that if we are delighted in Him and His Word, then we shall be planted by His life-giving streams, thriving in Him, and producing enough to share with those that God has prepared for me to share with.
Is it wrong to pool our resources, make our efforts systematic, or create organizations to better distribute support to others? Of course not. But when those institutions become an excuse for us to “mail in” our care for others or to coerce by law the contributions from others, or if the organizations just become a cardboard cutout of charity that helps us feel good, we have departed from God’s social justice into institutional legalism, theft, and apathy.
The power of the early church wasn’t because they wore down Caesar and debated the philosophers into submission and somehow gained access to power and passed laws ensuring justice and provision for everyone. The early church thrived in a culture where they had NO access, and where many temples to Roman gods had charitable programs that may have even rivaled what we have done in America.
The early church thrived because they devoted themselves to God and He showed them the way forward, staying rooted in timeless principles that He established the universe with. Those temples and those governments lie in ruin, but God’s Church continues and His Kingdom will last forever. Are we delighted in Him and His teaching for how we should live, or are we seeking other ways? Are we relying on Him and caring for others from His provision and love, or are we just creating charitable ‘vending machines’ with no lasting eternal impact?
If we are honest with ourselves, we are more likely to be wearing a ‘gray hat’ because that is the only hat our culture considers ‘safe.’ And if we can see that clearly, then we might just begin to see how much of what we consider ‘good’ in our culture is really just ‘gray.’
I invite you to read Psalm 1 again and again, asking yourself the questions we have asked in these last three blog posts. Be honest, and have the courage to admit when you have replaced God’s way with something you thought might be better. Ask God to lead you to see clearly which hat you may be wearing. Be brave enough to go against the culture to pursue God’s ways, and see how He will bless the work and the lives He leads you to.
by Nathan Buck
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