Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The freedom in being small and despised

Psalm 119, which I read again recently, always does me plenty of good.  119:141 says, "I am small and despised; I do not forget Your precepts."

I had always read this to say that not forgetting God's precepts is consolation for being small and despised.  That's true, but there is more to it, which I had overlooked.

Being small and despised, one has the freedom to believe and state the truth,because what more can they take away from you?  It is the freedom that Solzhenitsyn found in camp.  It's a lot easier to remember God's precepts when you're free to believe and state them.  The more pressure we're under to bow the knee to the Lie, the more likely we are to forget God's precepts, principally by rationalizing them away.  "It is exceedingly difficult to make a man understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it," said Upton Sinclair, and how right he was.  The way Jesus put the same thought was, "How hard it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven."

American paganism - that is, its civil religion - recently celebrated one of its chief holidays, Veterans Day.  Americans on this day are supposed to thank veterans for their service, as though invading and bombing people all over the world who are minding their own business - so that war contractors can get rich - is something to for us to be thankful for, rather than the shameful act of oppression and mass murder that it is.

I had a conversation with a Christian preacher recently about these things, and it came together for me.  This guy publicly subscribes to this whole mythology - goes out of his way.  But he also knows better and has said so.  He clearly has to play along because if he doesn't he will get punished by his congregation and probably lose his pulpit.  They love and admire him, or so it seems, but if their love is real, would it not continue if he were to walk in the truth instead of being conformed to this world?

I have wanted to be more esteemed than I am by the world, including the Christian world.  But I think that God has done me a favor by keeping me from the temptation of prominence and the esteem of many.  Such worldly glory is another manifestation of Mammon, operating just like money and being readily translatable into it, just as money is in turn easily transformed into fame and the praise of men.

Of course the regard of men is useful, and it even allows you to do good.  And in this is maybe its most seductive power.  How much more Jesus could have accomplished in the world, if he had just bowed down to Satan!  Yes, and how often are we offered that deal and accept it?  What is it to bow down to Satan, if not to make some deal or other with the Lie?  The preachers in Germany in 1937 who kept the freedom to keep preaching the gospel by making their peace with National Socialism - only what gospel did they have left to preach?  The preachers in Montgomery in 1956 who abstained from supporting the bus boycott in order to avoid offending their white congregations, likewise preaching the gospel of worldly godliness. 

Of course, the self-respecting cannot make such compromises honestly, truthfully acknowledging their cowardice.  They must rationalize it.  So they sincerely convince themselves that their betrayal of the truth is in fact the truth.  And so is fulfilled the word of Upton Sinclair, "It is exceedingly difficult to make a man understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it."  Indeed, it is far better for one's life in this present world to understand how true the Lie really is.  

I have no cause to believe that I am any better than these guys.  I have every reason to think that if it is presented to me the right way, I'll go there too.  Such virtue as I have in this matter may be credited to my lack of opportunity, no more - and that blessing and mercy is from God.

The heart of the matter: given that I can either learn to observe God's precepts or to be honored in the world, let me choose always to be small and despised, if that's what it takes to learn to observe God's precepts.  Up to now, I have not been clear enough about this.  Indeed, I have a lot to learn, and lots of crap to unlearn.



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