Theologians love to philosophize about the darkness in the world because, like politicians, they fancy the work of their own hands as a city of light set upon a hill. They see themselves as the administrators of light in a world gone astray. Nothing could be further from the story of the Bible, which shines its powerful light to expose the darkness in each of us, unimpeded by our crafty designs on self-importance.
When we are personally touched by the pain-filled light of Scripture, we find ourselves grappling with something we refuse to see—a darkness that fills everything we say, do, create, maintain and defend. In the case of Luke, the latter is represented by the Temple in Jerusalem. However, for the average listener who likes to complain about the hypocrisy of the local priest, ask yourself, how much do you spend on your house, your car, your entertainment, or your savings vs. the poor? How are your household, your family, or your friends any different than the Temple in Luke or any other institution? To the extent that any of these draw a line between you and the beggar, they’re not.
At this point, a flood of justifications and rationalizations enter your mind. If this were a sermon, you might take the message personally and lash out in some way. Why? Not because you love money and security, per se, or because you are sick of hearing the same message. You are, of course, but this is not the main issue. The real concern is: 1. You want to be right with God, or at least, you want to be right in general, and 2. The part of you that is honest knows that you are going to keep your house, buy the things that you want to buy, and you have no plans to invite a beggar to sleep in your spare room. So you are stuck. You either have to lie to yourself about the words of Scripture or accept your place among the brood of vipers hailed by John the Baptist in Luke 3. Another option, of course, is to complain that the Bible does not make sense—but this also is a lie. It does make sense, you just don’t like what it says because the truth is, you can’t do it. Few of us can—except the rare birds who give their life for the teaching, which presently excludes all of us. In the end, if you are an honest person, you can either bow down to Scripture, confess your sins, and learn from them, or you can walk away feeling justified. The choice, as they say, is up to you.
Richard and I discuss Luke 3:10-14 (Episode 473)
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