Saturday, February 05, 2005

The State of Our Union

I didn't see the President's State of the Union Address this week. It was Wednesday night, and I got back from the church late, and to be truthful, I forgot it was on. But I really wasn't too disappointed. The State of the Union speech is my least favorite of all speeches -- even worse than any speech at a graduation ceremony! The reason why I can't stand to watch it is the audience. Senators, Congressmen, Supreme Court Justices, and some of the most dignified political figures in the country gather in the House Chamber for this speech. And the result? They act like sixth graders.

First one side will stand and applaud, then the President will give an "on the other hand" and suddenly the other side of the room goes from sulking to standing and clapping at their loudest volume. Meanwhile the other side goes back to sitting on their hands and sulking. That traditional melodrama I've gotten used to. But it's still annoying. From what I was told by a friend, this year there were even a few "boos" peppered throughout the speech! A noble public servant elected to represent the people now feels comfortable enough to boo the sitting President in a speech. Will they bring peashooters and spitwads next year?

I mention all this not because I want to document bad behavior in politicians. I don't have that kind of time. To steal a phrase from John, "If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." Seriously though, I bring up the State of the Union because as Christians we often take a look at the state of our union -- our union with Jesus Christ. And we may look to put a happy face on things, only to hear the boos from our own conscience. It's tough to hear those boos. But I'm sure glad I can hear them. And I'm glad that the Bible reminds me all the time that I'm not perfect. And better still, I'm glad that I am shown in the Word that forgiveness is mine as well.

Our sinfulness is something we shouldn't ever push to the recesses of our consciousness. To do so surely invites pride. And believe me, my pride doesn't need an invitation! It crashes the party far too often. I assume I'm not alone. Pride attacks the rich and famous, sure. The smart, the powerful, check. But even the folks who don't fit in those categories have pride burst through the door to sleep on the couch.

It hurts me when people don't realize their own sinfulness. Not that I've run into many folks who claim to be perfect, but I've met plenty who think they are "good enough." I think one of Satan's favorite weapons is the lie, "If you're basically good, you'll go to heaven - don't worry about it." I know that lie gets used a lot. And that's why I get upset with the false teachers who push a feel-good message over preaching the Gospel. I figure if the Apostle Paul considered it important to watch doctrine, then I don't feel too bad about keeping a careful eye open also.

There's a lot of writing among the Christian blogs about Joel Osteen, the pastor of the biggest church in America. (The case against Osteen is made here) The charge is basically that Osteen teaches only a positive message and refuses to preach about sin. Now I've never listened to Osteen but his sermons logged on the web seem to be suspiciously shy of the idea of our own sinfulness, not to mention the fact that the name of Jesus seems not to be mentioned. I'm not ready to pile on Osteen without further study, but the Gospel seems to depend upon the fact that we are sinners -- otherwise we wouldn't need a Savior. When we are not reminded of that fact, pride starts beating on the front door again.

The State of Our Union with Christ Jesus must be sprinkled liberally with doses of reality. After all I am a sinner, but a forgiven sinner. I don't mind the catcalls. I even deserve a spitwad or two. But I get what I do not deserve -- forgiveness. Thank God for that.

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