Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sticks and stones .............................. Parables 129

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”

In self defense the children cry, but anyone who has been called names like “fatso,” “horse face,” “stinky” or even worse, knows that chanting that little ditty is only a brave attempt to cover pain.

Name calling binds lives with chains of self-degradation and blinds eyes to true self-worth and potential. Worse yet, name calling almost never stays one-sided. It soon erupts into full-scale verbal wars. When that happens, as any child knows, sticks and stones are not far behind.

The targets are not always children. Name-callers fire attacks at leaders, followers and spouses. Ugly titles are flung at well-meaning people as well as just mean people. Some people even use God’s names in their assaults or worse yet, call God names while they are at it.

When God is involved, name-calling is simply cursing, swearing or blasphemy, yet blasphemy is not mere name-calling. It is actually an attack against God’s holy character, verbal or otherwise. Case in point: “The Last Temptation.”

I haven’t seen this latest effort from Hollywood, nor will I. God commands me to keep my eyes on Jesus, the genuine Jesus, not false portrayals (Hebrews 12), but I believe I have been well informed enough to make an evaluation. Even though some say this is “a deeply religious film,” its own press releases say the film portrays the Son of God in a war of doubt, unable to shut out impure thoughts and temptations.  That is not the Jesus that is presented in Scripture. Perhaps the film makers would argue the definition of purity but their own advertising blurbs are enough for me to give this movie my rating. No stars - it slanders the spotless character of God’s Son.

Christians have reacted differently, but how does God react? I know He won’t recite a chant about sticks and stones or nasty names and their effect. He won’t “get even” - He is not like us - we would return insult for insult. He likely won’t hurl a bolt of lightning dropping the offenders on the spot, although He could. My guess is that He will not defend Himself at all. He doesn’t have to . . . He is God. He is not changed by names, insinuation or misrepresentation. He is who He is.

But I believe God is grieved. We who belong to Him feel His sorrow. While we write letters, picket, protest and pray (certainly we would be under fire if we didn’t take a stand) perhaps some have misinterpreted that inner-felt grief. While we feel sorrow for God, I believe He grieves not for Himself but for those who have misunderstood and misrepresented Him.

What then would He do about this film? Romans 5:8 says that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Those who create a god of their own imagination desperately need God’s mercy while there is still opportunity to avail themselves of it. To repeatedly deny the truth of Christ puts anyone on very shaky ground. He is not a personality to be taken lightly and exploited simply for the sake of box-office appeal. Those responsible for writing and producing “The Last Temptation” are writing their own ticket for judgement, and unless they repent, that ticket is a death certificate.

Inaction by God, at least for now, does not mean He overlooks this latest blasphemy. The Bible makes it clear: anyone who hardens himself against the truth of God is “heaping up wrath until the day of judgement” even if they hide that hardness in religious garb. (Romans 2:5). God’s judgement is “vengeance in flaming fire and punishment with everlasting destruction from His presence.” (2 Thessalonians 1:8,9)

But the Bible also says that “God is longsuffering, not willing that any should perish but all should come to repentance.” Christ cannot be destroyed, by either nailing Him to a cross or portraying Him other than who He is, but those who do it can destroy their own eternal destiny.

May God have mercy - without it, His Word gives blasphemers no other hope.

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