Saturday, September 13, 2014

Smoke and Mirrors

Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.

-- 2 Thessalonians 2:3

Slot machines and stage shows may draw big crowds in Las Vegas, but magic acts like David Copperfield and Penn and Teller can be the hottest tickets in town. Their clever illusions and sleight of hand are designed to trick the eye--and all while convincing the audience that it's possible to make an elephant disappear. The crowd knows that there must be a trick, yet they still want to believe the incredible. Meanwhile, the magician never reveals the A-HA: the secret behind their hocus-pocus.

A different kind of A-HA is that split Magiciansecond when one's eyes are opened to a spiritual truth that changes everything. As Christ-followers, we can have A-HAs when God shows us that we're going down the wrong path in some area of our life. Then there's the ultimate A-HA: when non-believers finally awaken to their need for Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. That's not just life changing--it's literally eternal.

When God's light breaks through, the truth is revealed and we can finally see. Unfortunately, the world still chooses to remain deceived and enjoy the utter darkness of its existence. Meanwhile, Christ-followers who are open about their faith are accused of intolerance, bigotry or worse. Just watch TV, surf the Web or read a newspaper. You don't have to look hard to find articles or videos featuring "progressive" celebrities or journalists who point their fingers at "narrow-minded" Christians.

But depending on its context, is intolerance always a bad thing? And is tolerance of evil a virtue? After all, Jesus hates sin and declares Himself to be the exclusive pathway to God. "I am the way, the truth and the life," He proclaims. "No one comes to the Father except through me."

That's not very tolerant of God's Son. And His bold statement defies today's inclusive, politically correct environment. After all, it hurts feelings and suggests that some faiths are better than others. But society's demands for so-called open-mindedness and equality are irrelevant. Jesus has no tolerance for its false gods and deceptions.

Although our modern world may question the mere concept of right versus wrong, God's truth is near for those who truly seek it. Christ-followers have open access to this living water through the Bible, prayer and even wise counsel from fellow believers. We should therefore have less trouble than others with discerning good from bad. But actually living it out is another matter. And that opens us up--and often rightfully so--to accusations of self-righteousness and hypocrisy. 
So let's look in the mirror. Does the Biblical truth that we learn on Sundays transform us for the better on the other six days?

Let's not be deceived.

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