By Scott Keith –
If you’ve ever raised children, you know that little ears hear only what they want to hear. I’ve come to believe this is true of big ears too. I am actually one of those people who think that things really are getting worse. I think that all of our ears, more and more itch for lies. I am a fan, in fact, of the jeremiad. A jeremiad is a piece of literary prose wherein the author bitterly laments the state of society and its morals. A jeremiad almost always contains a prophetic message concerning the particular society’s imminent doom.
I’ll keep my prophecy short: I think we are in for some pretty big doom!
Some may ask, what is different? Or, are things really getting worse? Or, haven’t things always been this bad? To which I would answer: Yes! things are different, Yes! things are getting worse, and Yes! things have always been bad, but this current shit is crazy! Homosexual marriage, transgender people[?], never ending wars on drugs and terror, an almost completely––if not completely––defunct education system. An American infrastructure that is in utter decay. Corporations that feel like they need to besmirch good morals in favor of bad rather than just sell me a product at a fair price. Hell, I can’t even buy a car, computer, or cup of coffee without being told I need to support some lame ass CEO’s political cultural agenda.
Everyday I feel like exclaiming those jeremiad passages from Lamentations 1:1-4
How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like a widow has she become, she who was great among the nations! She who was a princess among the provinces has become a slave. She weeps bitterly in the night, with tears on her cheeks; among all her lovers she has none to comfort her; all her friends have dealt treacherously with her; they have become her enemies. Judah has gone into exile because of affliction and hard servitude; she dwells now among the nations, but finds no resting place; her pursuers have all overtaken her in the midst of her distress. The roads to Zion mourn, for none come to the festival; all her gates are desolate; her priests groan; her virgins have been afflicted, and she herself suffers bitterly.
It seems like all we hear is what our itching ears want to hear. Perhaps Paul had it right after all: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions…” (1 Timothy 4:3) “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” (Romans 1:24-25) We really have exchanged the truth of God for lies.
In fact, my itching ears want to hear something too. They don’t want to hear redemption for these lost people, they want to hear vengeance and punishment! My ears don’t desire forgiveness, they desire retribution. When my ears are offended by the debauchery of this age, they itch for a cleansing not unlike the wrath God brought down upon Sodom and Gomorrah. My itching ears are sanctimonious ears… and so are yours!
Are things getting worse? Yes. But I am too. I am not the man, not the Christian, I ought to be. I am a poor miserable sinner who sins against God and neighbor in thought, word, and deed by all the wicked things I’ve done and by the things that, in my wickedness, I have left undone. I have never loved God with my whole heart. I have never loved my neighbor; neigh, I have never even loved my family as myself. I justly deserve God’s present and eternal punishment.
Yet rather than expecting God’s punishment, I am bold to demand His mercy on account of Christ, as He promised. I am a sinner and my ears are always itching. But I have confessed my sin. Yet, even though all of my confessions are half-assed, my ears itch now for His forgiveness. I know I will have His mercy, love, and forgiveness because God, on account of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, has forgiven my sin and cleansed me of all unrighteousness. He has washed me clean in the shed blood of the Lamb and I will stand before His throne clothed in white and my itching ears will then only itch for the truth.
I expect that the world is getting worse. I suspect that we really are Slouching Towards Gomorrah. The world around us has ears that itch to hear wicked lies. Our ears, more often than not, itch to hear the truth about God’s righteous judgment upon sinners. Yet God calls us, I think, to have ears that itch to hear the same mercy proclaimed to others that is proclaimed to us when He says, “On account of my Son, you are forgiven.” Christ says as much when He asks us to, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13) Yes, we are to seek justice, but we are called to desire mercy, and even more, to walk humbly with our God. (Micah 6:8)
He claims us not because of our worth, but because of our unworthiness. He claims us not while we have ears that itch to hear His truth, but while we are yet sinners. (Romans 5:8) We lacked and lack all merit; He is our only merit. Things are getting worse, but our God works miracles in the worst of times when the hordes have ears that are turned away from Him. His Spirit descends and works through His Word and our words cast in His name to turn ears that itch for lies to ears that yearn for the Way, the Truth, and the Life. That is the truth that Jesus saves sinners and frees them from the lies. He frees them from sin, death, and the power of the devil. He makes sinners His own new creation. And once they are His own, no one can pluck them out of His hand. No one can pluck YOU out of His hand!