The Dam of Our Affluence
Now, I shall attempt a little out of 1 Corinthians, chapter 6. In verses 1-11, Paul talks to us about the unsoundness - the outright disobedience of godly people relying on and putting stock in the judgment of worldly people - worldly lawyers and worldly judges. You know, folks, if you judge a culture’s faith in something by the amount of that thing within that culture, then in whom do we place our faith? Look in the Yellow Pages of your local phone book under the heading, “Attorneys”... then look up “Churches”. Notice anything? Why are there so many attorneys in this world? Are there not so many attorneys because we’ve created a need for them? Do so many individuals within our culture become attorneys because this “need” has generated so much financial compensation for them and their services that many of these individuals pursue the title merely for that compensation? We feed the beast that lives within us but yet again.
So, we can place our faith in God’s Spirit to lead us in judgment or... we can place our faith in money-grubbing lawyers who eventually become power-hungry judges to determine judgment for us. What has this nation - what has our culture chosen? Take a look again in the Yellow Pages of your phone book. Look at the make up of governments, whether they be local, state, or federal. Lawyers run this country - money-grubbing lawyers. In what, my friends, have we placed our faith? Why is our country in such a state? Haven’t we... lost our faith in God? Haven’t we... lost our focus? It’s time we get an... “eye exam”!
Moving on to 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; have you ever seen a mountain stream rushing through its bed? There are places where the bed is wide and relatively flat and the stream flows smoothly, peacefully through these areas. There are other areas where the banks are nearer together, the elevation changes drastically over a rather short distance, and the stream pours violently, noisily over the many rocks and falls found therein. Yet... it is the same river - the exact same stream as it was a few miles back where its surface was smooth, its attitude was peaceful, and its voice was calm and hushed.
Is not life this way? All things are “lawful”... but not all things are helpful or profitable, spiritually speaking. If we place our faith in God, He will lead us to judge these things. If we place our faith in money-grubbing lawyers and power-hungry judges, what will we get? We’ll get what we bring upon ourselves. We’ll get what we’ve now got - a nation of money-grubbers and power junkies bent on finding the tiniest of loopholes for highest of bidders rather than a people of integrity who insist on pursuing truth wherever that leads. Rather than receiving the blessings of a loving God, we’ll receive the dictates of these money-grubbers and power junkies.
There are times of peace and prosperity - times when we are united and can enjoy the affluence with which God has blessed us with hearts that are filled with gratitude. There are other times when we are prosperous but not unified. There’s no tranquility among those working against one another. Any body of humanity, whether it’s the body of Christ or some other, secular body of humanity, is like the human body itself. When it has within it a foreign body - a body working against the main body - there is disharmony and dysfunction within it. It runs a fever and vomits. It… gets sick.
God has blessed the human body with the ability to “learn” from its experiences, for we - for our bodies can become immune to manyy of the illnesses that we contract. God has also given to us, the body of humanity, the ability to learn from our experiences, but we do not often use the ability. We… are affluent, and rather than learning our lessons and doing “better” next time, we just buy our way out of our troubles, learning nothing as a result.
These are tumultuous times. The body of humanity has a high fever and the raft upon which we ride is plummeting down a rowdy, raucous, and raging rapid. We have the money to buy our way out of our troubles, but… what kind of store sells the sort of rescuer that we need? We are too sick to properly steer our raft let alone go into Wal-Mart on a busy Friday night for some… “cold remedy”. Besides, where would we find a Wal-Mart along this stretch of wild river? We try, in vain to control the body of humanity - to force the fever out - to force our raft against the raging waters bent on finding the sea, all the while we are so sick that we don’t even know where we are. We are lost, sick, and out of control. What kind of rescuer can help us?
When will we break? When will we give up? When will we surrender the vessel of humanity to the will of… the River? Affluence! Affluence my friends is but a dam in the river. No dam on Earth - no dam of human engineering and construction halts a river. Dams merely restrict the flow. Man cannot build a structure to stop rivers - only to but hold a bit of their water. God is the river. He will crush any effort we make at stopping the flow of His will with the compounding weight of His many waters!
Finally! Calm waters! We’re still sick with fever, but at least we now have calm waters. Our progress slows. We begin to drift. We must now pull out our oars and row to move forward. Even the wind has now died down. The sun becomes hot and there is no longer the refreshing splash of spray that at one time had surprised us as we careened down the raging rapids. Burning with fever, we dip our hands into the water to splash our faces. It is stale, stagnant, and brown. Yuk! We throw it back, we grab our oar, and we row.
Ahead… on the horizon, we see a structure! Curious if it might hold any promise for relieving us of our condition, we manage an effort toward it. For hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, and centuries (it seems) we row towards our goal, and when we finally reach it, we realize what it is. It is a dam - a structure of our own design and construction - a structure for the building up of affluence. It holds precious water for our use at any time we want it rather than just when it is raining or just when we travel to the wild country wrought with raging rivers.
We tie off, exit our raft, and climb up to the top of the dam of our construction. Far below, we see a raging river bellowing out from the bottom of the dam of our construction, and we realize that we… can go no further. The structure of our own design - the “bank” where we have deposited “our” affluence is now seen in its true light. It is a dam - a structure that restricts the flow of raging waters bent on finding the sea. On one side - the raging river; on the other - brown, putrid water - a “desert” of water - our “affluence”; and right between the two is a dam of our own construction preventing us from continuing the journey. Sick, exhausted, and broken, we collapse, and as we do, our dam collapses with us, and we are all washed down stream.
This will happen. Humanity will realize the perfection of creation rests, not in man’s ability to keep it as is for his use, but in his ability to keep up with it for God’s glorification. As in the example of the river that we may be able to restrict, we’ll never be able to stop it - to stop the flow of water in the river nor the flow of change wrought within the very fabric of creation. Until man comes to grip with the Spirit of God and His process of evolution and realizes that they are one in the same just as God and man are one in same (when he is following his Creator’s Spirit - not when he is following his own selfish, self-centered desires) - until that time, we will be sick and stuck on a dam of our own design and construction between the brown putrid waters of “our” affluence and the wild, raging waters of God’s blessing, for they too are one in the same. The only difference between any of these things is our focus. Like the dirt of a splattered bug on a windshield, we can focus on that... or we can choose to ignore it, look past it, and, with thanksgiving, enjoy the view afforded us by the blessing of God’s creation on the other side of it. Amen.
November 13, 2006