Have you ever heard the expression “opinions are like belly buttons” ? There is actually another way to say the expression that I don’t think is appropriate even though it makes the expression all the more realistic. It is true however. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone thinks that he or she knows the “best way” for this thing or that thing to occur. Whether it’s politics, religion, or religion in politics, everyone seems to have an opinion.
Several years ago while preparing to teach a Sunday School class it dawned on me that no one has ever been remembered for for his or her opinion. Think about it. Do we remember a French teenage girl from the thirteenth century because she had an opinion that English oppression of France has lasted too long? No. But we do remember Joan of Arc, who believed that she heard from God and did something about it. Do we remember a middle aged hockey coach because of his opinion that the Soviet Union took advantage of their closed culture to build a hockey powerhouse that will probably never again be matched? No, we remember Herb Brooks because he took 20 amateur players and beat a Soviet national team deemed unbeatable. Do we remember Saul of Tarsus because of his opinion regarding the law of Moses. Nope! As a matter of fact, the opinion that he had so definitively about the law of Moses is the very thing that led to his rebirth. (btw, rebirth can only follow death) We remember instead Paul the apostle who said “I fought the good fight, I finished the race” not “I won the debate, and lived comfortably”.
So why do we strive to get our point across? Well we are immersed in a culture where opinions fly around like gnats and mosquitos on a hot summer day in the south. They’re everywhere. Media is everywhere. In our pockets, our backpacks, on our TV’s…. Everywhere. And most of the time those who drive a great deal of the media are lacking in integrity. For example; Fox News has an agenda fueled by conservative opinions not by a passion to report the news. Before any of the progressive folk out there throw a party because I just said that, please admit that CNN built an empire by pandering to the political party that beats the drum of the college sociology professor. OH…. and also……. I majored in sociology, a discipline that I believe is better served understanding people groups, not trying to change people groups based upon an “enlightened” since of superiority. There are people in the “third world” who come to America who are shocked to find out that someone is telling them that the way they think is “barbaric” or “irrelevant” or “old fashion”. That they have the wrong “opinion”. That whole notion implies to them that the reason they didn’t have “good stuff” in the first place, were there “backward” opinions. I digress…..
Although the Enlightenment happened centuries ago we still benefit from it’s effects. For the first time in Western history the “masses” really had the opportunity to learn things indepently from the lord of the manor or the parish priest. This is awesome! I am so glad that I live in a culture where I am able to freely choose what to believe and not to believe. That being said, I follow a savior, who sent the Holy Spirit to literally do the thinking for me. Let me explain. I find that if I follow the voice of the Spirit, and/or how God reveals Himself to me in scripture, I am better off than I am in thinking for myself. It never fails. Jake makes a decision, independent of God, it doesn’t work out in accordance with God’s intent. Did God give me a brain with which to think? Absolutely! I passionately believe that reason is one of the pillars we human beings have, given to us by God, to navigate life. I also believe, Adam and Even had the very same thing in the garden. Their reason, influenced by something other than God led to destruction.
Everyday it seems that I am reading and hearing opinions and thoughts based upon “reason” that is derived more from enlightened influence rather than from the voice of a Creator. Our nature, the sinful part of our nature, convinces us that there is importance in having “our way.” We have come to the point where many believe that God’s intent for us is to “be happy”, on this side of eternity. No worries. No struggles with sin. Nothing. “God just wants me to be happy!” Really? God does? That’s what the cross did? The cross says that God wants us to be WHOLE, not happy. Our definition of “whole” cannot be fueled by our emotions, desires, or understandings. No one can tell me that Mary the mother of Jesus wanted more than anything to be ridiculed by everyone she ever knew because of the perception that she got “knocked up” and created a story of a virgin birth. She didn’t want that. And what about the fact that all but one of the 11 remaining disciples went to their death because of their faith? Is that because God wanted them to be happy while on earth? Because He wanted them to feel complete? Really? Peter being crucified up side down made his flesh happy? The very point is that Peter and the other disciples went to their death denying their flesh. They weren’t concerned about their happiness or getting their opinions across. As a matter of fact Peter knew all too well the dysfunction personal opinions could cause when denying the voice of God. At one point Peter was so concerned with the opinions of others and his opinion about what the others thought of him, Paul had to rebuke him because of it. Sound familiar?
Anytime we allow our opinions to drive identity, and “who we are” we are failing to understand that God wants us to be whole. To be complete in Christ Jesus. Not to find earthly happiness at all costs. Folks, anyway that is cut, whether it is a “progressive” talking point or a “conservative” talking point, is prosperity gospel. The prosperity gospel is something that I find to be disturbing. It totally makes God the great “wish granter” in the sky. Not the God who’s suffering shook the universe. A God who says that if we follow Him there will be cost. Our talking points seem to revolve around us. Me me me, I, I, I. We we we. When it’s not meant to be about about us. It’s about Him. We say things like “a loving God would…..” or “a loving God wouldn’t……” basing what follows those statements upon human preferences and understandings, thinking that we have an inside track to what the Creator of the universe would or wouldn’t do. Really? It is incomprehensible for me to think about or to even consider giving up one of my children for just one rebellious soul. I wouldn’t do it. It makes me sick to even think about it. But God? He gave up His only Son, for all souls. That’s what a loving God does. How He thinks????? He saved a wretch like me, and there is no way in His creation that I deserve it. I can’t think that way. It’s not possible. But I sure am glad He does think that way. Let’s quit talking about what we think is right and wrong and start focusing on Him.