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“Guilty of All” This Fall?
As Labor Day passes, we are aware of the leaves changing and a certain cold nip in the air. We are also aware of something else in an election year. The campaign rhetoric becomes louder. The political ads become more biting and the political discussion more heated and divisive. Nowhere is this more evident than on social media.
Facebook, originally a place to connect and reconnect with friends, has become decidedly un-friendly. Twitter, once a bastion of fresh ideas has become a cesspool of …….. Our civility has given way to incivility as unbeliever and believer alike enjoy the glorious liberty of free speech without thought or restraint or accountability on the information super-highway we call the world-wide web.
At a time like this it might be wise for all of us to remember that as followers of Jesus Christ we must give an account of ourselves to someone besides the regulatory gods of social media. Just because Facebook and Twitter accept our posts doesn’t mean they are acceptable to the One we follow. Just because our rhetoric isn’t quite as vile as those who make no claim of being Christians doesn’t mean it is kosher in God’s eyes. We answer, to borrow a phrase from Hebrew National meats, to a Higher Authority.
There is a standard to use to navigate these contentious, anything goes times especially in the realm of political discussion and even more so in terms of social media. In Romans 3:20 we find a simple standard that is both instructional and invaluable to us if we are to please our Lord during this turbulent season. It reads “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”
Did you catch the standard spelled out in this verse? Let me highlight it for us: “Through the law comes the knowledge of sin”. The Law as the simple standard lets us know when we have sinned. What is being talked about here is not the laws governing free speech that our nation has or even the First Amendment that our Constitution protects. The law here is not the rules and policies set up by Facebook and Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, or What’s App. What is our standard? We know when we have sinned, when we are displeasing to God, when we violate the Law of God. Just so that we are clear, this Law of God that we are talking about is summarized for us in the 10 Commandments found in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5.
Before we take a quick look at God’s Top Ten, as some have labeled the Ten Commandments, please look with me at James 2:10 which says “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” Ouch! If you or I break one of God’s commandments we are guilty of breaking all of them. In other words, the Law of God is like a bike chain. If I break one link of the chain, I break the whole chain. If I break one commandment of the ten, I am guilty of breaking all of them. Let me say it again. Ouch! I can’t speak for you, but I don’t want to be a “guilty of all” kind of person.
Let me try and expound and explain what I am getting at using the aforementioned Ten Commandments
In Deuteronomy 5:7 we read “You shall have no other gods before me.” So if I am so caught up in this political season that my discussions in person and my posts on social media are saturated more with politics than with Jesus I am making politics and government a god and I am guilty of idolatry. I am not just guilty of idolatry though, I am one who is “guilty of all” Because to break one of the commandments is to break all of them.
Deuteronomy 5:8 says “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” So if identify with the donkey or the elephant, with a political party or candidate or against a party or candidate, more than with a group of believers called Jesus’ Church, I have made a party or a candidate an idol and I am an idol-worshipper. I am, however, not just guilty of idol worship I am one who is “guilty of all’
The name of God was so sacred to the ancient Hebrews that they refused to write it. They got this partly from Deuteronomy 5:11. It reads “ You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” So if I am dragging the Lord’s Name into the political argument and associating His name with a political party or candidate I am taking his name in vain and I am a blasphemer, Yet I am more than that I am one who is “guilty of all”.
We probably can’t all agree on the interpretation and application of Deuteronomy 5:12 which says “Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you.” We should be able to agree though that pleasing God requires us to unhook and focus on Him and Him alone at some point. So if I can’t take a break for a day or two or three from the latest political fray or social media fracas I am breaking the principle of keeping a Sabbath. More than that though I am not just a Sabbath-breaker I am also one who is “guilty of all”.
“Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 5:16). This is the first commandment that has a positive promise attached to it. Honoring my parents means more than obeying them. It means living in such a way that they are proud or would be proud of how I am conducting myself. So then, if the way I conduct myself over the remaining 50+ days of this political season brings shame on myself and my family’s name I am both a dishonorer of my parents and one who is “guilty of all”.
The rendering of Deuteronomy 5:17 as “You shall not murder” over “You shall not kill” is probably the best translation of the words here. Jesus amplifies this idea by telling us in Matthew 5:21–22 – “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” So then if I am so upset with the political landscape that I have come to nearly hate or actually hate someone I am both a murderer and one who is “guilty of all”.
Marital fidelity is encoded in the 10 Commandments through the words of Deuteronomy 5:18 – “And you shall not commit adultery.” There is another kind of fidelity though. It is called spiritual fidelity. That requires that I am committed to my Lord and that I never cheat on Him by falling in love with the world and its system. James proclaims to his readers “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” So then when I so assimilate with this world’s political struggle that I love a candidate or a party or a system more than my Lord, I am both an adulterer and one who is “guilty of all’.
The simple truth “And you shall not steal.” – Deuteronomy 5:19 recognizes that we can own things, that private property is a part of a civil society. It also came to mean that the God who provided for us to have property can ask us to give back to Him. When we don’t it is said that we “rob God” (Malachi 3:10) So then when we take what is rightfully God’s, financially speaking, and divert it to the systems of this world we are stealing from God. We are not just a thief then, we are also one who is “guilty of all”.
The simplicity of Deuteronomy 5:20. “And you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” can be paraphrased “You shall not lie.” Thus, lying is offensive to God. So, if I knowing or unknowingly participate in spreading that which is untrue by my words or posts or reposts or tweets or retweets I am responsible. I am a liar. I am also not just a liar, I am one who is “guilty of all”.
The last commandment probably embodies the major issue associated with the political season and political campaigns. The desire for power. Deuteronomy 5:21 states “And you shall not covet….” Coveting is wanting something someone else has badly enough that I’ll do almost anything for it. So then if I am so vested in these elections that I will compromise my values, lose my friendships and sacrifice my integrity then I am probably guilty of coveting. I am, though, not just a coveter I am one who is “guilty of all”.
The point of this article is not to make us feel guilty but rather to remind us all of the standard by which guilt or innocence is measured. I am afraid that the reality that there is such a standard has been lost. Standing before a Holy God guilty and as one who is “guilty of all” because I have broken His Law is a thought that should make us tremble. Thankfully He has provided the forgiveness of our sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Galatians 3:13 tells us that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—. In 1 John 1:9 we read “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Though we be “guilty of all” we can be forgiven of all through Jesus Christ who died for all.
If the Ten Commandments as outlined above are too much to remember there is a shorter edition. In Matthew 22, Jesus boiled down the whole Law and all the prophets into two commandments. He said “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” May our Lord give us the grace and strength to live these two amazing truths out so we do not find ourselves “guilty of all”.
In His Service,
Pastor Dave Watson
“God gets in the dirt 3x that I can think of:
To create Adam
To bury Moses
& to defend a woman caught in adultery
God is with us in the joy of birth
The pain of death
& kneels beside us in our shame
We can rest.
God can handle our dirt.”
Heather Thompson Day
On Healing Voices this Monday, September 14, 2020 Pastor Dave tackles the spiritual climate on social media in a broadcast called “Guilty of All”. Catch the show on WMCA 570 The Mission and 102.3 FM. If you miss a show the podcasts can be heard here – https://wmca.com/podcast/details/8695
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Nineteen Years Ago Today
Nineteen years ago it was a beautiful September morning, A perfect transition from summer to fall.
Nineteen years ago it was just another work day, a school day, a Tuesday
A Primary Day to choose Mayoral candidates.
Nineteen years ago the city felt so good, housing was up, the economy was great, stocks were high and our spirits were even higher.
But all that changed nineteen years ago, nineteen years ago today. And we will never forget!
Nineteen years ago terror struck our city
Struck our towers, struck them twice
Nineteen years ago evil incarnate showed up and did the unimaginable
Nearly three thousand innocents were murdered, murdered in broad daylight
Moms and dads, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers,
Snuffed out by the thief who comes but to rob and to kill and to destroy
Oh the horror nineteen years ago, nineteen years ago today.
And we can never forget
And then there were the firefighters and cops.
The first responders, The probies and the vets who ascended the towers and never came back.
They journeyed from their firehouses & their precincts as they had so many times before
But this time it was different, different in the worst kind of way
For many it was the last ride of their lives.
They fulfilled their calling as public servants.
They were and always will be NYC’s Finest and NYC’s Bravest
They became forever this cities heroes, nineteen years ago, nineteen years ago today
And we must never forget
Today it’s 9-11 instead of September 11th
Today we are still on edge, still nervous about what may happen in our city, in our nation
Today they have filled the hole and finished the rebuilding
Today they say there’s closure since we got Bin Laden
But today there are still empty seats at dinners
Today there are empty seats at christenings, at graduations and at Little League games too.
Today there are empty spaces where dad was supposed to be at the wedding or where mom was supposed be at the baby shower
But most of all there are empty places in our hearts
So Lord we pray this day that we will feel Your presence and know Your love.
Without You we don’t how we will make it through this season, this day
They say time heals all wounds but Lord, You don’t say that, they do
Some holes are just so deep that gravel and steel and buildings and time cannot fill them.
Only eternity can. It is then and only then that You will wipe away every tear from our eyes
Until then, we can never forget
The horror, the pain, the disbelief,
The courage, the faith, the duty, so clearly displayed
Nineteen years ago, nineteen years ago today
Pastor Dave Watson
Please listen to us every weekday at 9:00AM on 570AM and 102.3
Monday – September 7th – Pastor Dave Watson talks about hope for a city because of God’s faithfulness
Tuesday, September 8th – Pastor Dave speaks with Kathryn Sarcone who was in her first days of High School on 9/11
Wednesday, September 9th – Pastor Dave speaks with Pastor Paul Schooling who was a counselor to the first responders and construction workers at Ground Zero in the days following 9/11
Thursday, September 10th – Pastor Dave speaks with Pastor John Picarello who was an active firefighter and at ground zero when both towers fell on 9/11
Thursday Night, September 10th – 7pm – 8pm – A special evening edition of Healing Voices – Pastor Dave and Kevin McCullough host a time prayer for the healing of our city.
Friday, September 11th -Pastor Dave talks about the importance of never forgetting
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Podcasts of the Healing Voices broadcasts can be heard here https://wmca.com/radioshow/8695