There are other passages today which talk directly to the current situation in the USA and the corruption of their rulers. But that felt wrong. There has been enough Jeremiah (today the prophet is Zephaniah, but very similar) and we know that the reason we are in this mess is our own doing.
The enemies of Christ are ruling the place, and they are actively rejecting God. This world works by enslaving people to the law, or by holding things over them. You spend much of your day watching your back. But the law itself contains something that looks beyond it and is greater.
There is a discussion Schaeffer had in the 1960s: it started with what does it take to be a good Christian? People talked about avoiding alcohol, or cards, or dancing, or music: it was before the degeneration set in so continence was accepted. But behind all these regulations were three laws: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and soul and might; Love your neighbour as yourself; and love those in Christ as Christ loved you.
And those laws are glorious but terrible. They consume our petty rules as a fire consumes straw. The regulations do not give life: God does, through Christ. So let us learn from a master: Paul knew his exegesis.
21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written,
“Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear;
break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
than those of the one who has a husband.”
28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” 31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.
5 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Last year someone said to me that for every addiction there is an industry. He was half correct. It’s better to say that for every deadly sin there is an industry pandering to it, and I’ll leave the obvious examples to the reader.
The most dangerous ones are not those that everyone at this time recoils from, though they are wrong, evil, and cause great damage. It is the ones we consider virtues, and the industries that are legal, approved, taxed, regulated, run by the great and good.
Modern people have, at least a bit, developed ways to replace the meaning of religion and the belonging that only occurs in small bands:
- Sports teams. This allows achievement by proxy. Your team wins, even though exactly one player out of 50 are from the state the team is in? You won! Your quarterback gets traded next year? He’s dead to you. Logical? Effective? Yes.
- Video games. Video games are a form of artificial achievement. You achieve a pre-programmed victory designed to manipulate you into feeling good. Designers of video games have turned this into a stunning skill, making successive video games more immersive. And despite this immersion, it doesn’t make kids more violent – I rarely lose a fistfight with a sixth grader.
- Work hard, do well, feel good. It’s a simple enough equation. It’s also one of the most real and most wholesome things on this list. Especially if you are a mummy – they aren’t evil – they just got a bad wrap.
- Consumeproduct culture. No, that’s not a typo. What is a consumeproduct culture? It’s one that replaces shopping for meaning. Did you find a new Brad Pitt® flavored toothpaste to buy? Great! It shoots endorphins into your brain that make you feel you’ve achieved something. But it wears off, and you’ve got to find Johnny Depp shaped vitamin C gummis and buy them tomorrow to feel okay.
- Politics. Just like sports teams, cheering for your side allows you to feel good when you win, and bad when you lose. The current Leftward polarization of the Democrats is very tied into this. How many Leftists does it take to change a lightbulb? 2500 to protest, and none of them working to change anything.
- Mind altering substances. Cocaine. Alcohol. Marvel® movies. These allow you to escape just for an hour or two.
What Wilder knows (apart from how to meme) is that all these things enslave you. They are traps. We were called by Christ not for slavery, but for freedom.
Sp dp not let those who believe that they can regulate everything because of their sainted ideology (generally weaponized envy) move to a position of authority over you. Jesus is Lord, and to him alone we bend the knee. All scripture is given to us, Proverbs and Prophets included, because the enemy is sneaky and will if possible trap us within our emotions, our sins, and our guilt.
For that Christ died. So let us not live as the pagans, even the righteous ones, do. Let us live better.