Living in Meshech and Kedar

protestA few weeks ago I shared some thoughts from the songs of ascent, that group of psalms from Psalm 120-134. Psalm 120 expresses the anguish of one who lives away from God’s people, away Jerusalem, living among a deceitful, violence-loving people in places like Meshech and Kedar. I said then that we live in just such a place. The problem for many of us that live in the United States is that we want to view our land as Israel, the biblical Israel, a place of people who are under the covenant, even if they aren’t living up to that. It’s hard for us to accept our role as strangers and aliens, as ambassadors of God’s kingdom.
One way in which that manifests itself is our attempts to change the behavior of those around us. We seek to make our nation more godly by making those around us live more moral lives. We fail to recognize that what people need, what our society needs, is the lordship of Jesus. If they don’t have Jesus as their Lord, it doesn’t matter how much we improve their morality, we haven’t really helped them.
Years ago I worked one summer in a Peugeot bicycle warehouse in Compton, California (yes, I know… it’s everyone’s dream job). Among the group of guys I worked with, there was only one who professed to be a Christian. His idea of witnessing to the others was to go around telling them to stop cussing. (Meanwhile, he was the laziest worker there) He didn’t achieve even that small goal because his attempt to control the behavior of the others only met with irritation. Joseph Aldrich said something like “Don’t expect regenerated behavior from non-regenerated people.” I would have put it more simply, but the point is well made. If someone hasn’t been born again, we can’t expect them to live a new life.
We have to accept the fact that our society needs change from inside out. This is not a Christian nation in need of moral correction. This is a nation away from God in need of a Savior. We can get artificial prayers reinserted in schools, but that won’t make our kids more godly. We can get copies of the 10 Commandments plastered on every building across the country, but that won’t give people the motivation to live them out. We could make it a law that everyone had to go to church on Sunday, but until people accept the lordship of Christ, everything else they do is in vain.
If we want to change our nation, we need to bring them to the Lord. He’ll take care of changing them.

7 thoughts on “Living in Meshech and Kedar

  1. Very well said friend. I am astounded that more folks don’t get that. I hear all this stuff about the moral agenda and taking back or reforming the behavior of our country. It’s like we want a “Stepford” country where everyone smiles and defers…where we are comfortable and unchallenged. This is a tough place, this world we live in. But it has always been a tough place. That is why God needs tough and thoughtful people who will choose to see our fellow citizens as the captives and not the enemies. Freedom does not come from a better morality while in prison, it comes from being released from prison. The release is only found in embracing the Lordship of Jesus and seeking to become His embodied presence wherever we live, work, go to school, and play.

  2. “Freedom does not come from a better morality while in prison, it comes from being released from prison.” I like that… can I steal it sometime?

    Thanks for dropping by, B.J.

  3. This is a wonderful post. I have long suspected that the endless amount of energy being spent to get prayers, Ten-commandments, etc… in the public place is more about the people waging this fight than about God, the God who redeems.

  4. I think it was Joseph Aldrich that said Christians should have ashtrays in their homes so as not to make visitors uncomfortable. Similar idea.

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