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It's a good thing our oldest son could outrun his sister when they were kids. Especially after one of our "earthquake drills." Oh, the earth wasn't really shaking. It was another one of those inventions of a wacky daddy.
It started after we returned from a trip to California where we heard a lot about earthquakes. So - for no intelligent reason I can think of - I would occasionally yell randomly, "Earthquake drill!" And the ensuing script went something like this. Brother would run to his sister and hold her tightly. Father: "What are you doing, son?" Brother: "You said if there was an earthquake, we should hang onto something heavy!" This is when speed saved his young life.
Actually, that's pretty good advice when things are moving that never moved before. Hang onto something heavy.
Lately, I've been getting that shifting landscape feeling a lot. Believers feeling comfortable watching things they would never have watched ten years ago. Accepting behaviors and ideas that would have been unthinkable only a short time ago. Feeling free to wear less and show more. Letting their kids do what the culture calls cool - things we thought were dangers to avoid a few years ago. Dissolving marriages that were, until recently, thought to be something that "no man" should "put asunder." And all this among growing questions about what marriage even is.
Yes, the ground's been moving under our feet a lot lately. It's more important than ever to "hang onto something heavy."
God's not surprised by all this. He described the tectonic shifts that would happen as human history was winding down and the return of His Son was approaching. "For the time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths" (2 Timothy 4:3-4 - NLT).
There's a phenomenon at work here that I call the equal distance syndrome. There's always an equal distance between what the culture accepts and what Christians accept. And that distance can make church folks feel like they're doing pretty well morally compared to everyone else.
Problem: as the culture moves, believers move with it. So...we end up being where folks without the Manufacturer's instructions were just a few years ago. Still different. But drifting inexorably away from the unmoving standards of Almighty God. And that drift is accelerating rapidly as the world around us speeds away from God. The culture moves. The polls move. Public opinion moves. God's people move. God doesn't.
In that same Bible passage that foretold the moral drift from the truth, God directs us to hang onto something heavy. So heavy, and so true that it is forever anchored in place. "They will be deceived...but you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true...You have been taught the Holy Scriptures from childhood...All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives" (2 Timothy 3:14-15 - NLT).
No opinion poll, no majority vote, no societal shift can change God's mind or God's Word. His word on every moral issue is final. Non-negotiable. And the only way to make life work. To live as we're wired by our Creator to live. To avoid emotional and spiritual disaster. And to avoid the judgment of the God who drew the boundaries we feel so free to question.
There's a classic story about a ship captain who realizes there's a light out there in the fog - and whatever's out there is on a collision course with his vessel. He radios that they need to adjust their course. A voice comes back telling him to adjust his. The captain again orders the man on the other end to change course, this time reminding him he's a captain. Only to be answered by a "seaman second class" demanding the captain change course. Then the final exchange. "I'm a battleship - change course now." "I'm a lighthouse. Change your course."
The Lighthouse of God's Word won't be moving. It's there to show us where it's safe and to keep us from going down. Our drift from that Light leads to one destination.