“As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and given in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and washed them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Matthew 24:38-39
Believe it or not, MAD MAGAZINE has been around now for more than 60 years; mostly known for its portrayal of up-to-date pop culture and its infamous cover displaying the missing-tooth, goofy-grin of fictional character Alfred E. Neuman, whose life motto is, “What me worry! Any thoughtful analysis of this philosophy of life integrated with perceptive observation of most of the human race reveals people actually DO worry; just not about the right thing. Take for example the devastating mud slide in Oso, Washington where a whole hillside recently collapsed. Homes were destroyed in seconds, 24 (and rapidly climbing) are dead, and as many as 176 are still missing; presumed dead. The people who lived here had been warned in previous studies in 1999 and as recently as 2010 that they were at risk of death from a catastrophic slide by staying put. We can be sure these people worried about many things; whether about money, relationships, jobs, or who would win the next “American Idol; just not about a deadly collapse of the hillside where they lived and slept. You have to wonder about the people who rebuild homes directly on the San Andreas Fault; or choose to live on islands like the Maldives in the Indian Ocean whose average height above sea level is 4 feet, and highest elevation 7 feet; surrounded by an ocean known for tsunamis and typhoons.
But is this any different than those who risk the dangers of overdosing or destroying theirs and others’ lives as they “dabble with potentially lethal substance addictions despite numerous warnings and multiplied evidence that their proclivities are for all practical purposes suicidal? Much of civilized society lives in a pop culture bubble; and despite universal claims of being intellectually aware and sufficiently educated living in the “tech age, still display abundant evidence of intellectual incuriosity; that is, no interest and no study of the very issues which matter most to their eternal future and to a purposeful, meaningful, and satisfying life. There is little if any curiosity of spiritual truths. The psyche in the young men who come to the PAYH reflects a spiritual malaise and lack of curiosity in the very elements which can most change their life positively and permanently. In this they mirror the society from which they come.
What causes this? What is it that is missing in this world’s thinking which leads the culture down the path of “anomie; that is, a condition in which society provides little if any moral guidance to individuals? The Scriptures continually point to one critical missing ingredient which permeates human society from beginning to present: real awareness of sin! Not only awareness of sin in general (many may agree with this in one form or another depending on what sin is to them), but awareness of the great gravity of sin (too few see sin as a devastatingly serious matter). And not only awareness of the great gravity of sin generally, but the awareness of the great gravity of sin personally! There isn’t anyone who is exempt. (“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God and “All we like sheep have gone astray, is how the Bible describes us) If you do not see sin as God sees sin, as sin actually is, you do not see the cross of Christ in true perspective; consequently, you will not value the message of the cross in the way which will radically transform your life, witnessed in personal behavior; a behavior which mirrors this description by Jesus: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me, will save it. (Luke 9:23-24)
If in your estimation and experience sin is not overwhelmingly crushing, then the grace and mercy of God in Christ in sending him to the cross for your sin is not costly; and if it is not costly to you, it is not personally valued above all else; at least not so that it will unalterably transform your life. Even among many professing Christians there is insufficient knowledge of the message of the cross and what Jesus as the God-man accomplished there. Consequently, the number of true disciples today is not what it could be in making a radical difference in our world, rivaling first century disciples of Jesus. No wonder Jesus prophesied of this age, “When the Son of Man comes will he find faith on the earth?
“Taking up your cross daily as a mark of a true disciple means wrestling with sin daily, putting a stake in the heart of your sin daily, denying yourself daily. It is not a “once and done event; it is the life style of the disciple of Jesus. Not unlike the game “Whac-a-Mole, sin is always popping up its ugly head everywhere, yet the disciple of Jesus is fully capable in His strength to persevere in self-denial. This strength comes from what Jesus accomplished on the cross for you personally. If you would be His disciple you will know what He did for you and put it to use!
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