SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSONS
Commentary by Walter Albritton
June 24, 2007
We can Remain Faithful to Christ within Our Secular Culture
Key Verse: Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near. – Isaiah 55:6
Secular culture in
The secularists are hell-bent on
eliminating all references to “God” in public places and forcing Christians to
worship at the altar of pluralism. Their rationale is that
What we have in our culture is a resurrection of Old Testament idolatry – worshipping pagan gods while at the same time paying lip service to the one true God. God would not tolerate it back then and he will not tolerate it now.
What pagan gods does our culture worship? The god of entertainment, to name one. Our society makes “gods” of our secular entertainers, then “worships” them by the thousands at concerts infested with drugs, alcohol, and sexual immorality. Secularism has created such an unquenchable thirst for entertainment that even our churches have capitulated by designing worship as mostly entertainment.
Our culture also encourages us to “worship” animals. Thousands of people bow at the pagan altars of dog tracks and horse racing tracks where gambling and alcohol prey upon foolish people, wrecking lives and families. Some of us “worship” dogs and cats. We spend far more money on cat and dog food than we give for missions every year. What thinking person has not been sickened by the media shot of Paris Hilton kissing her poodle?
To be sure, animals are not evil. They have many good uses. They can be wonderful companions for lonely seniors. Seeing Eye dogs can enable the blind to have a better life. Trained dogs are useful for sniffing out explosives and drugs. But an animal is not a person and should never be considered as such. God alone is worthy of our adoration and worship!
What does all of this have to o with Isaiah? It was to such a society as ours that Isaiah spoke. He saw people thirsting for the wrong things, and spending their money for food that could never satisfy their hunger. They were laboring for the wrong reason. They were thirsty. They were hungry. But they were ignoring God! So Isaiah tells them that the God who loves them is inviting them to “come” to him and receive the true food – the word of God – “so that you may live.”
Recently I had the opportunity to counsel with several 12-year-olds who were preparing for confirmation of their faith. I asked each one, “Do you read your Bible daily?” Not one said “Yes.” I asked if they managed to eat three meals a day. Each smiled and said, “Of course.” I explained to them that the Bible is God’s food for their souls. Reading it provides the spiritual nourishment they need to mature as disciples of Jesus. Each child promised me to begin “eating” the Word of God on a daily basis.
Isaiah admonished the people not to be satisfied with the food on the world’s table but to enjoy the food with eternal value available to them at the banquet table of the Lord. In our own day we should heed Isaiah’s warning. Some of us spend too much time reading the popular novels of the day and too little time feasting on the richer Word of the living God. Even the finest of our Christian “self-help” books are no substitute for reading and inwardly digesting the soul food of the Bible.
The prophet wanted the people to realize that though God had allowed them to be taken into captivity, he had not abandoned them. He was still with them, as present as ever. Indeed, Isaiah says, you had better “seek the Lord while he may be found.” He is near so call upon him. Repent of your idolatry and turn to him at any time, anywhere, and find him ready to give you mercy.
These eleven verses are as beautiful as any in the Bible. They are filled with the good news of the Gospel. We have but to insert the word “Jesus” after the word “Lord” and these verses come alive for us as Christians. So with added joy we can say to one and all, “Seek the Lord Jesus while he may be found. He is near. Call upon him and he will give you mercy.”
We do well to reflect on the prophet’s reminder that our thoughts are not God’s thoughts, nor our ways his ways. We need to help naïve people see that God can never be thought of as one’s “Co-Pilot.” As someone said, “If you think God is your co-pilot, you are in the wrong seat!” God is God. He is other than us. He is not the “Big Man Upstairs.” He is the Holy One whose thoughts we can never entirely comprehend. We cannot see where he is leading us for he gives us but just enough light to take the next step. Our place is to follow where he leads and obey his every command, knowing that his promises will never fail us.
We can thank Isaiah for many insights but one of the most beautiful is that in verses 10 and 11 of chapter 55. How precious it is to know that God’s Word, when it goes out, will never return to him “void” or “empty.” Instead it will accomplish the purpose for which God sent it out! Because this promise is true, we can speak forth God’s Word with confidence that it will accomplish God’s purposes and bear fruit for his Kingdom.
Even though our culture is largely unfriendly to our Christian faith, we need not despair. Instead we may call upon Christ for grace sufficient to keep us faithful to our mission in the world. By the grace of our Savior alone can we remain faithful in a society increasingly hostile to the Gospel. But thanks be to God – with his grace we can live as the salt and light he expects us to be until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our Lord and Christ!