Monday, January 23, 2006

The Shelter of the Most High

The desire to be liked, to have the approbation of one's peers, can be a narcotic. It has led us, at times, to feel sympathy for those whose positions on theological issues conflict with our own, even to the point of allowing our own settled convictions to be questioned. This is a component of the inner warfare Paul writes about in Romans 7. Heresy, tolerance of sin, backsliding, etc., can result not only from evil desire, but from that which is good and noble and true within us. C.S. Lewis wrote somewhere that Satan's most powerful assaults come not necessarily through our vices, but through the distortion of our virtues.

What has so far prevented me from actually departing from Reformed orthodoxy is the spiritual sensation (for lack of a better word) of feeling vulnerable, exposed, and in danger. It is like a young bird in a nest. It feels warm and secure, and then suddenly the mother lifts her wing and the baby bird is exposed to a cold wind, and at risk from predators. This finds perfect expression in Mt 23:37 (and Lk 13:34), "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!"

Scripture is replete with warnings about deviations from the Narrow Way, which are not meant to frighten us so much as to preserve us. The simplest, and perhaps best, is "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Ps 111:10; Prov 1:7; 9:10). Fear is not a craven response of a cowardly spirit, nor is it the way of the weak, but rather it is merely common sense. I fear the painful effects of fire, so I do not place my hand upon the hot stove. Orthodoxy is not cowering before a divine bully, but recognizing that to ignore God's commandments is a prescription for moral, spiritual, and cultural catastrophe. Only a fool would not fear the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Only a fool would desire to absorb the cold wind when instead he could take comfort in the shelter of the Most High.

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, who abides in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the LORD, 'My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust" (Psalm 91:1-2).


Blogger Red22 said...

I have been quietly lurking and reading your posts. I am anxious to listen to your sermon as well! I will have to admit, there was a brief time I thought I would have to drive out to NJ and slap you around, but maybe the Holy Spirit does that in time. Anyway, great to read posts like this one! Blessings!

4:04 PM  
Blogger Scribe said...

I am quite definitely relieved at not having to be slapped around! My melon is already ringing from the Holy Spirit's rather intense whacking upside my head. Ah, what fools we mortals be!

10:01 PM  

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