Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Still Small Voice

I’m reminded of the story of Elijah in the cave.

“he came thither…and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him,…And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
 (1Ki 19:9-12)   

What emerges from all the comments over this past week is a still small truth. Not only can we not agree on the answer, we cannot even agree on the question. Have you ever noticed the power of a question? Have you ever noticed that the question itself exerts a kind of influence over the answer?

The very same words can lead to distinct answers depending on how they are framed in your mind.

Have we not seen this here?

In this discussion, much of the debate has centered around “What do you mean, ‘it is worth it?’" and “is that the right question anyway?” Some insist the question is “is it worth it to walk away from narrow-minded people so that you can do great things for God among open-minded people?” It would be hard to answer no to that. I have framed it, “Is it worth it to dissolve a lifetime of relationships and influence in order to enjoy my personal freedom?” It would be hard to answer yes to that. Others have framed it “Is it worth it to even bring this question up considering how much havoc you’ve caused?” At the moment, it would be hard to answer yes to that.

I feel indicted. Not as an individual, for I think I understand where my critics are coming from. In fact, if I engaged in the thought processes they use, I would criticize me too. No, I feel indicted as a human being. We make such a mess of things. We create havoc in God’s world and yet stand justified in our minds.

But I am cheered by the words of a song,

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of (this world) will look strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

Is He not the way out of the maze? Everyone in this discussion will, no doubt, agree that “Jesus is the Answer.” But is it possible that we can learn from Him what is the right question?

Everyone wants to claim the propitious benefits of His death, but do we trust in the example of His life?

For those of you who insist I render it a legal opinion, I have nothing that you will consider new. But I do offer the words of the Apostle Paul as a tool to understanding the questions. “All things are lawful to me but all things are not expedient…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling...” and “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” So how do these verses combine to create a means of thinking about behavior? Any decision I make, I must ask myself: am I willing to stand before God and give an account for this? Am I willing to take full responsibility there for my actions? Which means I cannot say I have a right to do it because there was no law against it. Further, can I honestly say, “Father, I am choosing what I am choosing with the example of Jesus in view. I humbly acknowledge that my judgment or execution could be faulty. I am at your mercy in this regard and will gladly make amends if You show me I need to. But from my heart, I embrace the example of Jesus, ‘not my will but Thine be done’ ”?

From this mindset, there is no issue which is not an issue.