This morning a television news brief reported that someone in the Vatican had leaked documents revealing concealed corruption in the upper ranks. The complaint will have to be tested. It seems that whenever corruption infiltrates the highest levels of any religious organization – whether a parachurch body, a local church or a denomination – that corruption is hard to root out and deal with in godly ways.
Leaders in every Christian body, however small or large, should ask from time to time: Are we genuinely open to properly registered complaints? And are we truly striving — as God enables us — to be just in all our dealings? In our Lord’s cause, just dealings should bring strength to a body and cover-ups of wrongdoing are always ungodly.
Leviticus is a difficult book to plow through, but this morning Kathleen and I reached chapter 10, detailing the Lord’s instruction on how priests were to be attired and how they were to conduct worship at the tent erected for meeting with God.
For one thing, it appears they were to take holy fire from the sacred altar, place that fire into their incense burners, sprinkle on top of the fire some incense and then waft the resulting fragrance up to God as one feature of worship.
Aaron’s two older sons apparently decided on a shortcut. They must have assumed that fire from any source would do. In this they either acted in favor of convenience or theirs was an act of indifference to divine orders. From the Lord’s perspective, it was blatant disobedience and such willfulness was an offense against his holiness.
The account tells us that fire “blazed forth from the Lord’s presence, and burned them up ….”
In the New Testament, Ananias and Sapphira brought to the apostles a portion of money from a property they sold and pretended that it was the whole amount. Their offense was similar except that the priests’ offense was ceremonial, theirs was moral. They were disingenuous in pretending a generosity which lacked reality (Acts 5:1-11). They too were struck dead.
Harsh though these stories seem on the surface, they are lessons about integrity before the Lord, and obedience to his commands. Obedience is one evidence that faith is genuine. Jesus said, “If you love me you will obey what I command” (Jn 14:15). And, “This is my command: Love each other” (Jn 15:17).
To eagerly desire to obey the Lord and to be penitent when overcome by temptation are signs of a regenerate heart.
It’s good to check on ourselves from time to time, and make amends if for any reason we are indifferent to or casual about God’s commands. The stories about Aaron’s sons and Ananias and Sapphira are in the Bible for a reason.
A recent Gallup poll indicates that now 50 percent of Americans identify themselves as pro-life. The pro-abortion numbers have dropped to 41 percent. The brightest note of all is that great numbers of young people on both sides of the border are taking up the pro-life struggle.
Since 1973 a valiant fight has been joined around the world to save the unborn from death at the hands of abortionists. The Roe versus Wade decision made by the Supreme Court of the United States would appear to have settled the matter forever. What can you do when the Supreme Court has spoken? In Canada the decision is seemingly made with even more certainty — there is no law against abortion.
But even high courts can’t silence the cries of conscience. And since 1973 growing numbers in the United States and Canada have been discovering from science what really is destroyed in an abortion – a developing but defenseless human life. It is becoming ever clearer through ultrasound and other means that from the moment of conception everything is there that will shape and become the person that is to be born. All that must be added is time and gestation.
May we all see the light clearly enough to find a place in the struggle.