July 14, 2019
July 14th is an unofficial holiday called ‘Pandemonium Day’*. The word pandemonium, meaning a place of confusion or turmoil, comes from English poet John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost. First published in 1667, the epic was a collection of 10 books; and in this long and beautifully written poem, Pandemonium is the capital of Hell.
Satan is indeed the king of confusion; but God is not, as 1 Corinthians 14:33 clearly states, “God is not a God of confusion but of peace”. Yet to look at most of our everyday lives, one would often wonder who we are truly following.
Our daily and weekly schedules are often like a puzzle in which there are too many pieces and we have to decide which ones fit and which ones don’t. We juggle work, home, school, church, and if there are a few moments left, personal time.
We have overloaded ourselves with technology that is supposed to make life easier and yet is seems our lives are only getting more complicated and stressful. Granted I will admit that I find it far easier to type a sermon on the computer, than if I were to handwrite it or type it on an old-fashioned typewriter. And using Bible Gateway and Google on the internet is much more efficient than searching through multiple volumes of concordances, Bible dictionaries, and the like to do research. Other jobs that require typing, filing (better known today as data storage), and communications also find increased efficiency in the ever-growing field of digital technology. But it is growing at such a chaotic pace, that just keeping up with the technology is a job unto itself. And if the internet goes down, or cell service is disrupted, we panic.
Then for those of us like myself, who have a tendency toward perfectionism, or OCD, the strain is even greater. One wrong word, one forgotten chore, one weed in the garden, and you’d think the world has come to an end. We put pressure on ourselves on top of the pressure that other people put on us.
Under the Old Testament law, God’s people were indeed pressured to be perfect in their sacrifices, perfect in keeping every last commandment, perfect in obeying the Sabbath requirements. Severe penalties were inflicted upon those who did not. And then Jesus came along…
Jesus knew we weren’t perfect. He knew we could never possibly keep all of the Old Testament laws. He publicly rebuked the Pharisees who harshly criticized the people for their failures, including what they viewed as Jesus’ failure to observe the Sabbath, while they themselves did not keep the two most important commandments, the ones that sum up the entire law – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37 & 39). In Hebrews 10 we recall that Jesus said, “’Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them’ - though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, ‘Here I am, I have come to do your will.’ He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (vs. 8-14)
Yes, we who have put our faith in Jesus Christ have been made perfect forever through Him! And yet we continually beat ourselves up trying make ourselves and our lives perfect. We want the perfect house, perfect spouse, perfect children, perfect car, perfect job, and we want to look perfect too. We try to keep up with, and surpass, the Joneses instead of helping the people who have far less than us. We fill our time chasing impossible goals that have little worth – in essence chasing the carrot that Satan dangles in front of us. We are bombarded on all sides by advertisements, by pressure from other people, by constantly changing agendas, by threats to the economy, our health, our sanity, and the environment. Science, political leaders, and analysts comes up with a solution for one problem, but two worse problems take its place. Over 2600 years ago Daniel prophesied about this generation “when many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase” (Daniel 12:6). So what is the answer?
You know what I’m going to say… It’s Jesus! Jesus is the answer to our personal problems, our community’s problems, our state’s problems, our nation’s problems, and the problems of the entire world. He alone can bring perfect peace into the chaos of our lives. He alone can shine a light into the darkness, calm the storm, and give us hope. Because He doesn’t change the surface of things, he changes us on the inside. He’s everything we’ve ever needed. He’s everything I’ve always wanted. Just give me Jesus. Amen.
"Breathe" (Jonny Diaz) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnjeMwxFuBA
"Just Give Me Jesus" (Unspoken) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfvximi7aqw