Ground fire downed a Japanese torpedo bomber in their attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. The American Navy salvaged the plane long ago, but a crew excavating in the Harbor April, 2011, unearthed a skull that could well be all that remains of one crewman. San Diego Union Tribune, July 20/23, 2011
Forensics may have been able to identify the man. They may have been able to find his family in Japan. What may never be known is whether the crew dropped their lethal pay load before being shot from the sky.
The Past. Some love to study it. Others abhor it so they can enjoy the existential instant. Many refuse to consider it relevant since they think only the future is important. But the past can never be avoided. It keeps coming back, in sometime strange and often in unexpected ways and at unexpected times.
Which is the single most important reason forgiveness of sins is so essential. NO ONE wants to have unforgiven sins recalled at judgment as angels open the books.
Sam Walton employed an ESP system of accounting when his retail chain consisted of 20 stores. Each month he and his accountant balanced, then closed, the books. Should they fail to balance, they nevertheless closed them, stating the difference between debit and credit as an ESP: ERROR SOME PLACE.
NO ESP exists at judgment. Either Jesus has previously forgiven our every sin, or ALL of them, none exempted, stand as our accusers, every unforgiven wickedness detailed in all its horror. That warns us that forgiveness doesn’t just somehow happen, nor is it found JUST SOMEWHERE. When American singer Carol King heard that Amy Winehouse died, she said, “I just really hope that she’s found peace now wherever she is.” San Diego Union Tribune, 7/25/11 As if peace is found WHEREVER.
Think what King said…that Amy would find peace in the next world…though she hadn’t found it in this one: with which she had been familiar; friends in high places; lackeys at her command; money to waste; servants for every need; worldwide fame; columnists and op/eds seeking her views; where she made her own rules and everyone adjusted to her; her every opinion a ton.
How can she find peace in the next world: to which she was likely a complete stranger; facing the Everlasting God who had been but a word, not a Person; where her opinions don’t weigh even an ounce; where God makes the rules and no human thought exists, let alone intrudes or contests or prevails? She is to find peace THERE, WHEREVER she is…with no advantage at all…when she didn’t find it HERE, with every advantage?
People will always react viscerally to death. “Oh, so and so died…poor thing…I hope she’s better off now.” Christians must think rationally so they can use the occasion to teach. Because many Amy’s are in our future: without her wealth or talent or fame, but with her obscene search for meaning in what never satisfies. Indeed, obsessed with pursuing every lie that secular humanism and scientific and scholastic intellectualism tells, the spiritually illiterate never cease looking.
In the middle 1800’s, young New England men, descendants of mighty Puritan ancestors, grew disillusioned with life. And in their disillusionment turned to…social causes such as abolition, cults such as Mormonism and personal causes such as vegetarianism. Substitute ecumenicity for the cults—though they continue to attract millions; and environmentalism for vegetarianism—though vegetarians continue to make a religion of food; and animal rights for abolition—and you have many 21st century Americans, lost in luxury, possessions and obsessed with beauty, pleasures, extending life…and unanchored and adrift in their misguided search for God’s purpose for them. That’s America today.
But here is our nation’s one and only hope: “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting man’s sins against them.” And here is God’s charge to Christians: “…he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” II Corinthians 5:19-21.
THAT is our primary role as prophets, laymen, pastors, administrators and counselors. God has intentionally equipped us to REACH the lost. We fail Christianity’s most basic purpose if we put ANY other effort as first and most important in church life.