Daily Proverbial, 11 January 2012

Bloodthirsty men hate a man of integrity and seek to kill the upright. Proverbs 29, verse 10.

The man of the hour is Tim Tebow. If you’ve read these for any amount of time you’ll be able to predict what I think of Mr. Tebow and his faith (clue: I think it’s wonderful). I won’t expound on whether his faith is right or wrong, or even about whether or not he should so publicly pray in public. Instead, I’ll ask a question: when did it become out of place in our world for someone to ‘Tebow’?

My coworker and I were talking about this yesterday. I asked this question not knowing what her faith belief is or her background. We got to talking about just when did it become uncommon for someone to have such a strong show of faith in public? When did it become a curiosity for people to pray or show they believe or express their faith in such a way that other people would think it was odd? After much discussion, we really couldn’t land on any particular date so we moved on to another topic (since forgotten).

I think I know the answer. We became that way today. PDF – Public Display of Faith – became a curiosity when we legitimize the bloodthirsty men inside each of us. It isn’t necessarily a matter of ‘when’ so much as ‘how’ or ‘why.’ What in the Sam Hill are you talking about Dave? Walk with me a bit.

You see, I don’t want to seem like too much of an old geezer (although perhaps I am now) but it seems like this particular thing has gotten worse in the last decade or so. Our societal tolerance for dysfunction has been defined down. You hear it in the mysogynism of popular music; you see it wherever you see Lady GaGa or her big sisters Britney and Madonna; it’s on the peephole into paradise, and it’s all over the big screens too. Here endeth the sermon on how our morals have shifted for the worse because that’s been going on as long as there has been a thing called ‘popular culture.’ If you read about Old Hollywood, that is the Hollywood of the 1910s and 1920s, it’s been going on for a very long time. Bounce back a hundred years before and you can find scandalous talk in the press and even more scandalous conduct in the boudoir and this without the advantages of celluloid or recorded sound. To me, ‘when’ the precipitous slide started is almost a moot point because, no matter when it started, we’re living with it now.

That’s why I say ‘how’ and ‘why’ matter more. Since before the time of Solomon, bloodthirsty men hate a man of integrity and seek to kill the upright. Just this past Sunday, my friend, Mark, preached on Cain and Abel, reminding us that murder first occurred only a few years after we were originally created. The stain of sin goes back to the end of innocence in Eden, back to before Cain murdered Abel, even. And like it or not, the bloodthirsty man lives raging within every one of us, you and me included. Don’t believe me? Did you ever envy the man who got promoted over you, or the girl who made the cheerleading squad when you didn’t? Did you ever ridicule your neighbor, or flip the bird to the guy who cut you off on the road? Have you ever borne a grudge like I did and wished someone would be hurt because they hurt you?

That’s how the bloodthirsty man hates. He (or she) lives inside you and me, goading our sense of ‘justice’ onward, feeding our anger, jealousy and selfishness. Neither you nor I have killed anyone in fact, but in our malice, envy or even our active disinterest, we’ve sought to kill those we have passively (or actively) hated. If Christ’s first command to us was to love God with all our being and then to love our neighbor as ourselves, then every time we’ve failed that we’ve each been guilty of harboring degrees of hatred. Sometimes it’s the raging red-hot hatred of fierce greedy anger; sometimes it’s the soft hatred of mellow apathy or callous neglect. Either way, it can be a bloodthirsty thing no matter how you do it.

What about ‘why?’ That’s more subjective, I think. Your ‘why’ is different from mine because you and I are different people. What trips your trigger might not trip mine and vice versa. Perhaps, though, in the end, even ‘why’ doesn’t matter as much after all. Maybe it’s moot why we hate or why we seek to hurt and kill the upright people in or around us. Maybe the only thing that matters is that we do. We’re all guilty of it.

What’s the antidote to that? You know. There’s a whole Testament of the Bible that vividly describes it. How the Spirit speaks to you to turn your bloodthirsty hate to selfless love is the real ‘how’ that matters most. Like what triggers us, how He works in and through you will probably differ from how He works through me. What matters is both the process and the product because both are of God. Remember: the cure for the common sin is Christ.

That brings us back to Tim Tebow. You can’t read a football story these days without reading about Tim Tebow. Not just his near miraculous comeback plays but also about how he shamelessly and boldly lives out his faith on the field. I don’t know when that became a curiosity, and I’ll admit that it sometimes bothers me that it is. It doesn’t bother me for long, though, because I know the way of the believer is tough and we’re guaranteed that many in the world won’t accept faith and will persecute us because of it. In the end, none of that will matter because, whether we Tebow in the end zone or not, when we cling to saving faith in God, our sure victory is always guaranteed. Kneeling in public displays of prayerful affection simply becomes an honorable way to turn aside the bloodthirsty haters in each of us. It’s a personal act of devotion between you and God that you get to (not ‘HAVE TO’) share with other people as an example of leadership. However you’d show PDF is up to you. Give it a try and I think you’ll see that it isn’t out of place or odd at all.

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