Numbered, Weighed and Divided

The writing was no longer proverbially on the wall; it was literally on the wall. It was something we have all begged to receive, a hand written note from God. Clarity. But, it was not good news. The message was “Numbered, Weighed, and Divided.”

He was just like his dad. He advertised his power and lounged in his wealth.  His father went from being a respected king and feared ruler to becoming the lead character in the local myth about the psycho in the woods. He knew his father was exiled and stripped of power by the hand of God, only to have it restored by eventually demonstrating humility. Yet as he looked upon God’s writing on the wall, the message was that he was not going to be given a second chance. (Daniel 5)

He should have seen it coming. He saw where his dad’s self-indulgence, cruelty, and flaunting had gotten him. More than that, he saw how and by whom his father was restored. Yet, down the same path he went, forming his own rut. He had no boundaries and no restraint. With his friends, wives and hookers, he raised the cups stolen from the temple of God to the false gods of gold and silver.  Money, sex, and power. Now his lascivious days were numbered. Now his empty life was weighed, and found to be all too empty. His wealth, his kingdom, his legacy was about to be divided up and taken away.

At times, our souls are not deep enough to accommodate the clear water of truth.

The sludge of our excuses and the begging of our biological chemical reactions fully pollute the water of a shallow soul. “Logic” or simply “knowing better” is no match for the draw of money, sex, and power. We must have deeper souls.

This is not about piety or moral perfection. This is about overcoming the allure of the false and the life-killing oil slicks left in the wake of carnality. Deep souls are lined with the sediments of self-control, knowledge, faith, kindness and love. These are the products of the essence of God and the attributes of “participating in the divine nature.” (2 Peter 1:5-9) These souls have enough volume to diffuse the pollution of our selfish rationalizations and uninhibited desires.

Here, in deeper water, lust and immorality sink to the ocean floor to be eroded by the tide of what is true and real.

The writing is on the wall for all of us. Our days will come to an end. The weight of our lives will be measured and what we have will eventually be divided up and handed to someone else. If we live the way of the deeper soul, the days we have will be full, our feet will leave deep prints and in the end, we will have already given away everything we have that is of any true worth.

Falling walls…

Why can’t we talk about it? Why is it so polarizing? Why does an opinion, a thought, or even just a ”share” end up as a forty comment post leaving someone sorry they ever clicked the mouse or left a comment. Why do we become raving lunatics in the comment section of a blog? The desire to engage in civil critical thinking often quickly becomes overwhelmed by a wave of escalated rhetoric leaving silence and regret in its wake.

It’s not hard to find statistics purporting that students are losing their faith after high school in great numbers. My first question is always “Are we sure they are losing their faith?” Maybe they are losing their parents’ faith – their church’s faith. Maybe, for that moment in time, when they are surveyed, they really aren’t sure what their faith is. They have lost a faith, but maybe they haven’t completely lost faith.

When I hear us, as Christians, talk about faith, I usually picture a wall. In my mind, that’s what my faith used to look like. It was a carefully constructed barricade of bricks, each representing a part of the strong wall that was my faith. Each one built on top of, next to, and connected to each other. Over time, as I matured, learned, lived and at times simply endured life, some of those faith bricks started to crumble. My shifting worldview released tremors that turned holes into gaps and gaps gave way to gravity as sections of my wall fell. I thought I was losing my faith.

But I wasn’t.

Faith isn’t a wall. It’s one brick.

It’s the cornerstone. (1 Peter 2:4-8) What is built off of that is simply your conviction about everything else. Conviction is good. Conviction with humility is better. So, build a wall. Build your house on the rock. But, be aware of the difference between the house you built and the rock that it is built on. Be aware of the difference between the bricks and the cornerstone.

So maybe college students aren’t exiting stage right on their faith in mass numbers. Maybe, their walls are crumbling. Maybe their house is getting dilapidated. But the rock, the cornerstone, it remains.

Our virtual vomit sessions of venom infused Facebook comments are often masked by the badge of “defending the faith.” Too often, we are simply defending our bricks as if they are equal to the cornerstone. Critical thinking or even humble questioning in search of dialogue gets misidentified as enemy fire seeking to destroy the wall of our faith. If we were to step back, we would see that we aren’t enemies, but neighbors whose brick fences share the same cornerstone.

omg…

Matthew McConaughey does not drive a Lincoln. Beats headphones are not as good as Bose, despite the amount of athletes that wear them. The “new” pump-up Reeboks did not help Dee Brown dunk twenty four years ago. But there is no doubt that the endorsement of celebrities and accomplished athletes sells product. That is the reason they are paid millions of dollars to wear, drink, or use a brand. I’m wearing Air Jordan shoes right now and he has been retired for over a decade.

The athlete’s accomplishments validate their opinion. Their opinion lends credibility to the product. Sometimes it is truly genuine. He or she really does prefer to use the product that they endorse. Sometimes it is an empty name-drop.

Typically, Christians think of “Oh my God!” or other more unfortunate combinations of words as examples of what it means to use God’s name in vain. But, maybe using God’s name in vain is about more than “omg.”

What if it includes using His name to endorse your product?

When we attach God’s name to our theology, our actions, or our intentions, we run the risk of using His name in a much emptier and more damaging way than when we use it as a cliché. Thousands of people have been killed by the words and intentions of men that are masked as the will of God. When used carelessly, this name can have nuclear ramifications in our lives. Nations have waged wars and followers have been loyal to leaders that convinced them to drink the juice or empty their bank accounts because the end times were near – lives lost and lives ruined.

Maybe that is why this commandment has made the top ten. We can understand His anger against those who have used His name to endorse the way and the mind of a man. Misrepresentation. Words twisted. A Holy God turned into a corny phrase.

This is where true reverence comes in. It has been speculated that Jewish scribes would wash their entire body before beginning their work and recite a blessing before writing the Holy Name of God.

May it be so with Christ’s followers. Before we type it in that Tweet, scribble it on that sign, or order that billboard with a made up quote from God, we should pause – for a long time.

You are about to attribute your words, your thoughts, or your understanding to God. You are getting ready to endorse your opinion with His Name. True humility will cause us to push the “G” on the keyboard with fear. Not a fear of His punishment, but a fear of bearing false witness about God to the world. It is the tension of knowing God, yet understanding our limitations in knowing Him completely.

It has been said that our minds are like a sunken ship. The ship contains part of the ocean within it, but not all of it. Yet the ocean contains all of the ship. From these limitations we, the sunken ship, live and speak with reverence, humility, and cautiousness about the God who encompasses everything.

Using His name in an expletive is irreverent. Passing off your words as His words is damaging to us all.