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AUGUST 19, 1999
EITHER OR ... FROM SKIN TO CORE
HOW TO BE RICH IN CONTENTMENT,
WHILE BEING POOR AND NAKED AND
MORE MARVELS OF HUMAN DISEASE
On the ABC News on
this date, there came an interesting supplement to the topic of News 74.
It was simply this. It is now found that the use of anti-biotics on ANIMALS
is causing a decrease, a
dangerous challenge, to the effectiveness
of this piece of medical warfare, for humans. Not merely has the danger
long been present - my specialist uncle warning of it in the fifties -
for undue HUMAN use of this medicine; now it is stressed that its use on
pigs and other animals can bring it into the foodstuffs we eat in such
a way that these drugs have diminished impact on us. Indeed, more and worse
may be to follow than mere diminution.
There is no easy way
out. It is not a mere matter of intelligence versus brute force. We are
not made by brute force but with exceedingly cute and deft wisdom (cf.
the end, it is not a counter to calamity but a necessity of repentance
which faces us.
It is the same with
old-age "cures" and the telomeres, with money to weak nations, hopeful
'cures' by 'inducing' democracy. It is not so simple. Sin sits smiling
in the cockpit of too many human aeroplanes, national, professional and
individual, for any safe flying. Moreover, the Air Commander
has His own disciplines. When your Creator is the Judge, it is quite useless
to seek spiritual, physical, medical or other shenanigans to avoid the
point. This of course does not imply that medical works of mercy are either
inept or unnecessary. It is good to seek to serve and to enable what is
good. However it most certainly does mean this: that defiance can no more
succeed with science (merely a category of knowledge) than with will, or
machines, or dive-bombers or political dreams. The CAUSE of the ultimate
disease of man is in the heart. It is there that it must be resolved.
WORD OF GOD IS NOT SILENT ON THIS!
In fact, it would be
well to look a little more closely to precisely what the apostle Paul says
in Romans 8:20-23.
8 does not leave us without indication of the nature of what the
"HOPE" is! It is not as if the discipline
is spelt out unlovingly, and the hope is arbitarily ignored. The opposite
is nearer to it; but the nature of our situation is faithfully recorded.
That is usual in cure, is it not: you make the patient aware of the situation
and the option, of the gravity and the grace which may be found, this way
or that: operation or not, drugs or not, the underlying condition and the
creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who
subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered
from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children
of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labours with birth
pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits
of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting
for the adoption, the redemption of our body."
first that there was a SUBJECTION, which is described as NOT a willing
one. Hence there was an object, the creation, which was averse to, not
inclined towards what was coming to it. It was not a congenial, a desirable
thing. Yet it came. It was not an option. It was an imposition. It was
not a continuance unchanged; it was a transforming penalty. In part this
is personification, but since man was among the creation, in part it is
simple fact; and in part, it is an empathetic read-out, for the whole creation
was, as man's place of potential rule under God (Psalm 8, Geneis 1:26),
now in the throes of the results. As the 'householder' fell, so his household
paralleled his plight, and indeed, both expressed it and became part of
then ? Yes, the subjugation, the subjection was for a reason. It was an
action fraught with "HOPE" (Romans
8:20). Yet the result is "BONDAGE".
Now to what bondage does one subject something, in HOPE ? To that of discipline.
Per se, it is unattractive; but its fruits are needful! That is the way
with discipline, dutiful, dedicated discipline.
in Romans 5:15, we read this: "But the free
gift is not like the offence. For if by the one man's offence many died,
much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the One Man, Jesus
Christ, abounded to many." Indeed, verse 17
adds: "For if by the one man's offence, death
reigned through the one ..."
what then is the subjection made, and where does it lead ? It induces 'futility'
or vanity, things not conducive to the most fluent, fulsome forwardness,
but inclusive of frustrating circumstances, barriers and embargoes as is
normal in discipline. Indeed, it is not only this; it is far more severe.
is a "bondage of corruption".
What is that ? It is something not merely restraining and resisting the
caresses of self-will, the wings that soar unrestrained in self-affirmation,
world-affirmation, human racial affirmation, that worst of all racisms
(cf. SMR pp. 509ff., 1008ff.).
Rather it is a restraint which leads on to corruption. The corruption is
both mental and spiritual, and physical. It is parallel to man's equipment.
leads to "groans",
in the format of "hope".
Not all have hope; for them, the labours may be significant of doom, dirt,
disgust, cynicism. That is merely disordered thinking resulting from the
rejection of hope, the ignorance of the Maker and the error of dismissing
His current (Gospel) provisions, the integrity of the word of God, like
some sulking child, remorse not equal to the resentment of the discipline.
This sulking condition can be aided and abetted almost without limit, by
desire, the desire to be Headmaster, to be ruler, to be more important,
even ... most important. That sort of desire is coming, and it has come;
it is noticeable in the vaulting New Age theo-logisms or theogenies,
quite often (cf. SMR pp. 866ff.)
, but when it comes finally, it will be the very cynosure of revolt, the
paradigm of rebellion (II Thess. 2:8ff.).
discipline has expression physiologically in such areas as our now
better researched telomeres, where age settings are apparently in
view, cell duplications being limited: the provisions being planned and
purveyed for human age.
is in plagues, where impudence pretensions meet their barriers with realities.
It is in microbes, where adaptations inbuilt or re-written, enable action
to dispel the concept of blithe immunity, as if we were gods, and the earth
arrived thoughtlessly, only awaiting our pleasure. It is in insects, as
in the fastidiously brilliant surgical equipment of the mosquitoes with
its various means and methods, probes and piercings, sensors and manoeuvrabilities
- proverbial, indeed - flying jolts with a rather ironical humour.
the great, then, is pursued by this! as mere bagatelle, a minor thing,
which nevertheless in persistence, shall we say - in penetration and in
power is a mockery of all pretension! yet the result is not little. It
can kill, for the precise and tiny instruments from the little hypodermic
machine can inject the stuff of plagues! In this, it is like sin: the small
thing which was the work of a minor penetration of the psyche, can lead
to slander and slaughter, to presumption and assumption, and blow away
much - for after all, the world is in sin, and looks and acts, just like
it! ONE MAN started it; and many other individuals echo the chorus of dissent
from deity, indifference to call, command and welfare. ONE act again and
again attests its endemic nature, the sickness being as broad as the race,
as deep on the face as the pit-marks of small-pox.
RESPONSES OF MAN ARE NUMEROUS,
IN MULTITUDES AND NORMATIVELY UNHELPFUL
responses are numerous. Some are angry and aggressive in declared revolt.
Others seek to remove the Headmaster, the aerodrome rules, to change the
figure, and fly blind. Others again, seek to laugh in the face of adversity,
yet more to be stoical in composure in the face of it, as if to rescue
dignity by devices, and ignore the realities of birth and death as though
they were mere extras in the cast. Again, some become 'neutral' know-nothings,
intent perhaps merely on propagating the species, the bank balance and
the social standing. But in all this, there is no neutrality. One might
as well declare neutrality to the face of the Black Death. It is not particularly
interested in 'cop-outs', in hide-aways, in diligent indifferent as a form
case is there; the disease is present; and indifference, as it used explicitly
to be regarded in the Air-Force in World War II, can be taken as mere studied
impudence. For the God-disposer: it is like being indifferent to your father
in his wrath, to his just anger at your self-importance, self-sufficiency,
when all the time HE IS PAYING. You neither made yourself nor your future,
your birth is not at your pleasure and discretion, and your attitudes,
where they do not reflect reality, endure as self-dupings, as much injurious
as the work of thugs and muggings from outside. In this case, however,
the agent is giving a self-inflicted wound.
MEANING AND REMEDY ALIKE ARE
WITH INDUSTRY AND FREQUENCY
some cases: OPERATION OR DEATH.
is such a case.
we are saved in this HOPE" (Romans 8:24 -
capitals added). Saved from what ?
however you do make the course, then the whole river is before you, as
now this is quite clear. It was from that discipline which includes death
and dearth, which requires repentance and, as we find, is to that destiny
which is suffused with grace available - as appeared to be the case
in the seemingly all-conquering anti-biotics - through a narrow channel.
The narrowness of the channel, as was the case there, is in marked contrast
to the amplitude of the result. It is rather like passing through a very
difficult series of rocks when canoeing down a rapid. If you go where the
rocks are not, adapting and adjusting, thrusting and watching, then the
narrow pass is a means of escape from the rollicking waters in their surging
energies. If you do not, you hole the canoe and limit all progress.
is the way of His grace. The means is not a mere means; it is personal,
sacred and special, involving the death of the disciplinarian's Son, His
only Son; for He is loving and although to the rebel, love may at times
be felt as the final insult, rebellion is never apt when it is against
the realities of our sins and failings, our fantasies and our self-assertions,
whether individual, racial or national, scholarly or ignorant. This love
is as patronising as agony, as uncaring as anguish, as artificial as death,
as bogus as perfection, as weak as all-power over death and disease, as
sudden as a millenium pre-announced. In short, it is all that could ever
be hoped in mode and substance.
is more than could ever have been imagined. God is not a solitary. He is
not alone. He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit: He is Expresser, Expressed
and the Spirit about. He is Speaker and Word and the Communication medium.
One can seek, however imperfectly, to give some of the elements in this
not-compartmentalised perfection, the trinity. It is very simple in outline:
to Being, God is ONE, and as to Persons, He is three. Our social elements
are not without foundation, any more than our rational ones. Our reconciliations
are not without relationship to our need with Him! Our communications with
each other must be seen on the foundation of His communication with us!
(Cf. A Spiritual Potpourri 12
- and 16, Barbs, Arrows
and Balms 14, Biblical
Blessings 13; see also
SMR Ch.7, Section 4).
then does Romans say ? In Ch.5 we have this:
then it is a system in some ways; it is a situation, and no comedy. One
has presented us this pass to bondage, and ONE to blessing; one to compulsions,
and ONE to liberty; one to death, ONE to life; one to death for ever and
ONE to eternal life; one to hindrance, ONE to help, one to disease and
ONE to a pilgrimage, one to the contortions of system, ONE to the importunities
of grace, one to the seemingly meaningless, ONE to the meaning, one to
dearth, ONE to abundance, one to pollution, ONE to purity, one through
reckless ingratitude, ONE through unfaltering obedience. Such is the message
of Romans 5, such the reality.
as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's
obedience many will be made righteous" - 5:19.
why ? It was because the love of God for this world, with all its brawls
and squalls and insolences and insolvencies of heart, mind and spirit,
was SUCH THAT, as the mathematicians say, HE GAVE.
what did He give ? His fortune, power or name ? No HIS SON. Which one,
the higher or lower ? There is ONLY ONE, for God and His word are in eternal
mutual embrace of love and co-operation.
GAVE THE ONLY ONE. He presented Him in incarnation, expressed Him in lowly
magnificence of person, mighty performance and marvellous kindness, with
attention unremitting to duty, and once He was killed by envy, yet so as
to be a sufficient because perfect sacrifice for the sin which requires
death as its penalty. Then He raised Him in power. The curse ? Read it
in context. CHRIST BECAME ACCURSED THAT WE MIGHT BE FREE (cf. Galatians
3:1-13). Instead of lounging in pretentious neutrality, squandering time
in infelicitous pretence, it is necessary to repent and seek the Lord and
being thankful for this magnificent provision, adopt, accept and receive
it - being yet more thankful indeed, that it is in fact HIM, a person -
and so be saved from this uncomical situational drama upon the earth (Luke
13:1-3, John 1:1-14). Being saved, then serve. Serving then love; and loving,
be a child of God.
love is uncoloured by the climate of culture as sovereign, being the love
of God. It is what we are here for. Indeed, it is unfortunate to be so
musing on the situation, that one forgets the sovereign, so ostracising
the penalty as to forget its path to remission; so dwelling on the hopes
as to forget the HOPE; for in Him there is no death, and curse is forgotten.
That is the sort of thing ONLY HE could take; and He took it. It is time
to take Him.
? then rejoice, for nothing shall separate us from this love of God in
Christ Jesus, neither past things nor present, neither future nor impending,
neither disastrous nor enticing, neither higher powers nor lower, neither
fallen sin nor contriving seducer: our sufficiency is in HIM (Romans 8:31ff.,
II Corinthians 3:5), and it is HIM that we have acceptance before God (Ephesians