By Rev. Glenn Martin
Editor’s note: Fourth in a series.
An Ole Miss football fan got into an area where LSU fans were yelling for their team in a long-standing rivalry. LSU was driving toward the goal when one of their fans tapped the shoulder of the Ole Miss fan and said, "I'll bet you $10 we score." The Ole Miss fan turned around and said, "Man, I'm a Methodist preacher," to which the LSU fan quickly responded, "OK, I'll bet you $2."
Many church folks frequent casinos for the good food and a little "affordable" gambling. That's one way of risking a habit with growth potential and serious consequences. Our sinful natures tend toward indulgence, whether in a casino, on-line, drinking, or "all you can eat" food bars. History verifies it. Our vision verifies the wide span food bar habit.
America has become a nation of excesses and of forbidden fruit. The old farmer said, "If yo' outgo exceed yo' income, yo' upkeep gon' become yo' downfall." We are now facing the results of decades of careless living. "You shall reap what you sow" is a Biblical, agricultural, moral, spiritual and economic principle.
Bailout and stimulus may be genuine efforts to help, but any real reversal of our dilemma will come with accountability — moral, spiritual and economic — to God and to each other. Who got us into this mess? We tend to blame those we elect. I believe it's safe to say that unredeemed human beings from the top CEOs to the one who steals a small item from his employer is a contributor.
Pure honesty must have escaped our attention. Deception in our legal system, in commercials, and in corporate bookkeeping seems to be more prevalent than truth. The Ten Commandments have not only been removed from most public display, but also from our hearts as well. They are God's requirements for our well-being.
Ezekial quotes God, " ... they who follow my statutes and keep my ordinances and obey them ... they shall be my people and I will be their God." (11 :20) Every effort to remove God from our focus, whether through so-called separation of church and state, forbidding Bibles in a classroom or prayer before a ball game is an affront to the Almighty and leads us into a pagan culture which God has no reason to protect and sustain.
Irresponsible behavior at home or church, in business or pleasure, is condemned by the red letters of the new covenant. Jesus said if it offends, cut it off. The supreme price paid for our sinfulness on a rugged cross was not to increase our sin but to stop it. Our God promises accountability both now and in the final judgment. The expensive commercials call for drinkability. God requires accountability.
Focus on the scripture, on the cross, and on the Savior. That will produce accountability to God and each other. Our relationship to God is not by birth; it is by faith when we trust and obey.
Martin is a retired clergy member of the Mississippi Conference.