This is one of the many marinas in New Bern. I like to hang out here because it’s got a really cool view of the Neuse River and it’s home to some great looking yachts (and we all know how much I love boats). The other day I was walking along the dock and I saw these two vessels moored next to each other. My first thought was, “Man, I’ll bet the guy who owns that little boat wishes he had that big boat!”. Okay, maybe that wasn’t really my first thought; it was more along the lines of, “Man, I just wish I had a boat!” But, as I began to think about fuel cost, insurance prices, upkeep, and not to mention the price tag on that big yacht, I thought to myself, “The guy with the little boat has it made! I guess it’s all relative.”
In this life, lots of things are relative. For instance: it’s 90 degrees today in the city where I live. That’s hot! However, I have a good friend who serves in the USMC and is currently deployed to Iraq. Today, it was 120 degrees where he is stationed. That’s really hot! So, when I say it’s hot on the Mid-Atlantic Coast, it’s relative compared to the temperature in the Middle East.
“It’s relative.” That’s a phrase I use a lot, and I’ll bet you do, too. We hear it more and more in today’s culture. Gavin DeGraw even has a song with the title, “Relative.” Look at these lyrics:
A flashlight Isn’t quite sunlight, But any light at all seems bright, When you’re looking in the dark… And all is relative Everything is relative, Yes, it is [Chorus] It’s all about The way we receive it, How much we believe it, Depending on the life you lead If you lead it, Compare it to yourself, Compared to someone else , You care, And if you took The threads in your closet, The cash in your wallet, The color of the skin in your blood, And how you got it, Compare it to yourself, Compared to someone else, You care
Gavin DeGraw sings the mantra of today’s culture with the lyrics, “And all is relative. Everything is relative, yes, it is.” But, are these lyrics true? Are all things relative?
A lot about our day-to-day lives appears to be relative; at least relatively speaking it does. Therefore, you and I have the propensity to allow this way of thinking to affect or distort our view of God and His Word, The Bible. In other words, relativism (the philosophical doctrine that all criteria of judgment are relative to the individuals and situations involved) spills over into our theology (which is just a fancy term for the way we think about God). This is where we get into big trouble. Nothing about God is relative. “For I am the LORD, I do not change.” -Malachi 3:6. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” -Hebrews 13:8
As humans, we constantly reframe what God intended to be absolute truth; truth that was designed to give us the best life possible and result in a deeper intimacy with our Heavenly Father. This is nothing new; we’ve been doing it all throughout history. It started at the beginning of humankind. In Genesis, Chapter 2, God told Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of a certain tree. In Genesis, Chapter 3, they began questioning His words. Adam and Eve began to twist the semantics of God’s command, thereby reframing it to be relative to their own desires. Pretty soon, the absolute truth of what God had told them was perverted, and to the first man and woman, God’s command became “relative.” The result…original sin; the fall of mankind.
Some of you may be wondering, “What’s up with Danny? Why is he getting all theological and preachy in this blog?” Good question. Here’s why: My heart is hurting – no, my heart is aching – for people I know and love, and people in our culture; people who are lost and going to Hell. And even worse, people who think they are saved, but are not; and they’re going to hell, too.
The more I read, the more I watch TV, the more I listen to the radio, I realize that absolute truth is a thing of the past. Instead, we have embraced a new standard called moral relativism. How can the phrase “moral relativism” even be a standard? It’s an oxymoron. But yet it is tantamount to the way we live.
I fear that we have become a generation of compromise; a generation without absolutes. We trade our virginity for the illusion of love. We trade our natural emotion for medication. We trade our health for obesity. We trade our integrity for personal gain. We trade our financial security for credit. We trade our future for the present. We trade God’s commands for the pursuit of our own deity.
My job as a pastor is to help people; it’s what I love to do; it’s my heartbeat. But in order to help people, you have to identify the root of their problem. I’m convinced that the root of all our problems is the same as it was with Adam and Eve in the Garden Of Eden. We have trouble obeying God because we’re scared that we’re going to miss out on something. Bottom line: We don’t trust God. We’d rather trust ourselves.
Does that seem logical to you, that we could trust ourselves (fallen humanity) over God, the One who created the heavens, and the earth, and everything in it? Does it seem right that we would trust in our own power over God’s? Is it remotely possible that God’s law is inferior to our own benchmark of moral relativism?
Right now you may be wondering, “Where is all this coming from, Danny?” So, I’ll tell you. At the beginning of 2009, I sensed God’s leading to pursue holiness in my life at a much deeper level. I began asking myself some tough questions like, “Do I really trust God enough to provide for all my needs?”; “Have I traded the plans God has for my life, in order to pursue my own selfish desires?”; and “In what areas of my life have I compromised or settled for something far less than the standard of holiness?”
After some serious soul-searching over the last several months, my relationship with God has deepened, immensely. It hasn’t been an easy process, but then again, pain often produces strength. I can honestly say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, at this point in my life, I am way more in love with Jesus than I have ever been.
How about you? How’s your relationship with God? How does it compare, relative to where it has been in the past? Where are you compromising? In what areas have you exchanged God’s plan for you life with your own? Do you find yourself justifying sinful behavior behind the disguise of relativity? In other words, do you think that the things you do only affect you, and no one else? In what areas of life do you embody moral relativism?
Take some time to reflect upon these things. Get alone with God and do some honest soul-searching. Don’t be afraid. Remember, God knows you better than you know yourself. He already knows your heart and everything in it. He has an incredible plan for your life. He’s just waiting on you to realize it, too.