I Was Just Thinking About - - -
There should be basic norms for behavior that are both known and practiced. These norms are principles for life that will result in greater harmony within the culture. Principles are the general laws of truth upon which all other laws are derived. They serve as a guiding sense of the requirements and obligations of right conduct. If embraced, they become the core values of morality for a society and culture. Pragmatism seeks to determine meaning, truth and value of presuppositions. Philosophy embraces the ideas of rationalism where the determination has previously been made that reason is the supreme authority in matters of opinion, belief and conduct. This same school of thought, when it enters the realm of Theology, decides that human reason, apart from any notion or belief in divine revelation, is sufficient as the sole guide that will lead one to all attainable religious or spiritual truth. Unwittingly, or with reckless disregard, it chooses to ignore the consequences of such a belief system, not the least of which are hopelessness and despair.
As I thought of this distinction between Principle and Pragmatism, I read the statistics published by the Department of Veterans Affairs that was posted in USA Today and other media this past week. The statistics revealed that twenty veterans per day commit suicide. It would appear that the prevailing pragmatism of this day is part of the reason. If the concept of an Eternal God ruling the universe and desiring relationship in individual lives is removed or eliminated within a culture, despair and hopelessness will occupy the vacuum that has evolved. When core values are diminished within a culture or society and foundational principles have been disregarded, a person is left without spiritual verities by which one can cope with the issues of life in a sustainable manner. The media, both news and social, have become an ongoing source of varying reports, concepts and opinions. The society that has accepted Pragmatism as the summum bonum is left with the unintended consequences of such a choice.
In His day, Jesus Christ clarified the principles of life that were intended for anyone who followed him. In The Sermon On The Mount, Jesus made use of the phrase, “You have heard it said.” He then proceeds to emphasize and amplify the intent for that which had been heard. This was done to clarify the understanding of those who heard in order that principles for life would be embraced and implemented. A partial list includes:
- Matthew 5:21-22 (NIV), You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, Raca (an expression of contempt to indicate that someone is worthless), is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, You fool! will be in danger of the fire of hell.
- Matthew 5:27-28 (NIV), You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
- Matthew 5:33-35 (NIV), You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made. But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.
- Matthew 5:38-41 (NIV), You have heard that it was said, Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.
- Matthew 5:43-45 (NIV) You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
Where is your comfort zone within the society and culture of this day? Are you a committed follower of the Lord Jesus Christ and obedient to His word and teaching? What is the level of your seriousness when it comes to God, His Standards and His Values? What value and priority do you attach to your Bible, the Holy Scriptures? They are inspired by God and are without error. They enable any serious seeker and follower to know what one is to believe about God and what duties God requires of him/her in an interactional manner within the culture and society. How do you measure up to His Word and Standards? Prayerfully – Consider these things with me!