Here are the steps that we must have to release ourselves from the culture in which we live, as well as the steps that will help you find the path of truth.
First is the cry of separation. In the self-titled book of Jeremiah, chapter twenty three, verses nine and ten, Jeremiah is, as usual, bemoaning his souls anguish over the land of adulterers in which he lives. He said: “All my bones ache, I am as a drunkard because of the Lord… The land mourns because of their curse… Their course of life is evil and their might is not right.” He saw the separation between him and the sins of his community. The differences between himself and his culture. He saw what was true and what was false in the world at that time.
See this now. Jeremiah recognizes his position within the social setting and sees himself as set apart. In the Hebrew language, “set apart” is the definition of “holy”. We must have that cry. We have to recognize our surroundings as not part of ourselves… but rather like oil and water in the same vial, separate from one another. This is one of the largest lies that I find Christians living in. That they are the person that others see. We must understand that who we are and what we do are different from one another. We must find the pain of our sin and set ourselves apart from it, and say to ourselves: “Here is my sin. It is not part of me and I must divorce myself from it.”
Secondly is the pain of understanding. Pain is not bad. Pain is a message sending service that the human brain uses to receive messages from the vast reaches of the human body. In our culture, we have been programmed to believe that we must stop pain at all costs. Quick, get the bandages! Get the local anesthetic! Cure the symptoms at all costs, but ignore the malady. Pain is good. Pain lets us know that something needs to be fixed. It is like the warning lights of an automobile. It is not wisdom to take a hammer and smash the lights out! Fix it, don’t ignore it.
One of my favorite passages of scripture comes from the book of Jeremiah, chapter eight verse eighteen thru chapter nine, verse two. In this, we see that Jeremiah has already separated himself from his culture, he has seen the evil of it and now he must establish himself as a bastion of hope, a refuge, a voice. He says: “Oh that my head were many waters and my eyes a fountain so that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughters of my people.” This pain is eminent for those who wish to see the truth, the ultimate truth un their lives… For how can you help someone, how can you separate yourself from someone whom you are not willing to weep over first.
Thirdly is the goodness of God. Here we go again back to the good old book of Jeremiah. Let’s look at chapter twenty three and verses three thru six. Jeremiah says that a king will reign in those days and all of Judah will be saved. The payoff of the crying. The realization of the pain. The pinnacle of the hope. That Christ is here and is our king to save us.
Hope, I believe is the path. To find yourself. To find your culture. And then to separate the two from one another. To begin to see yourself in that sinking, scary and often traumatic realization. Finding yourself there you must learn to cling to the one who is ultimately in control of the universe. Realizing that this is not yourself, you turn to another source. The source that is Christ alone.
Finding Him, you might say is the hardest thing to do. Perhaps you look at is as being found. This may be a more suitable situation to be in anyway. We don’t have to do all the looking. All we have to do is call out to Him. All we have to do in our humanity is give the control over to God. For to do this we find ourselves at his feet. As the character Pilgrim did in John Bunyans book Pilgrims Progress, unload your guilt and sin on the cross of conviction. To have been found by Jesus, is to be that wayward sheep forlorn and distraught… To have the chief shepherd rescue consol and love you. Both are crucial to the goodness of God. We must find God and be found by him. Then we will be able to say with Jeremiah: “The voice of gladness and of joy… I will cause the captives to return to the land of the first.” And in all of it, we behold the goodness of God.
Copyright 2003 by pauly hart