Sunday, July 10, 2011

True North

Photo courtesy of

True North.  Sailors on the high seas or backpackers struggling through the wilderness navigate by it.  It's different from the magnetic North found on a compass in that it never deviates.  True North never moves from its place.  It's stable.  Constant.  Unwavering.  And therefore trustworthy.

Like those travelers, we are all trying to navigate through this life.  The number of stars that beckon to us, that threaten to throw us off course, that try to distract us, are innumerable.  And if we're not careful, following their siren's song can dash us against the rocks in the end.  So, we need a True North.  We need a stable, constant, unwavering, & altogether trustworthy Authority to guide us through both tempestuous & calm seas.

Each day we are inundated with situations that demand our opinions & actions:
     ~A mother choosing between life or aborting her child;
     ~A husband choosing between honoring his vows or abandoning his marriage;
     ~A son choosing between honoring his parents or rebelling against their God-given authority;
     ~A daughter choosing between modest or provocative dress;
     ~An uncle choosing between giving into or fighting his sinful same-sex attractions;
     ~A wife choosing between an angry response or a soft answer that turns away wrath;
     ~A brother choosing between laziness or industry;
     ~A grandmother choosing between gluttony or finding satisfaction in Christ . . .

How do we decide what the correct course is? Sadly, all too often, we rely on our own opinions. None of us form our opinions in a vacuum; all of us are influenced in some way, for good or evil. The idea of "original thought" is a fallacy; for that to be possible, we would have to think something that no one in the history of mankind has thought. So, the foundation of our opinions matters a great deal. So far as I see it, there are two possible foundations:

     *Ourselves - We form our own opinions, determining what is right & wrong for ourselves. There's just one problem here: our opinions are influenced by our emotions & our culture. Are either of those stable? Constant? Unwavering? Goodness, are either of those perfectly sinless? Incablable of error? Then why in the world would we consider them trustworthy?

     *The Word of God - We form our opinions - & thus our actions - on Scripture alone, looking to God to determine what is right & wrong. We recognize that - unlike God & His Word - we are not infallible, nor inerrant, nor omniscient. We have not perfect knowledge, so we cannot come to perfect understanding that is required to form perfect thoughts & opinions. We recognize that because our every thought, word, & deed is tainted by sin, we cannot rely on ourselves to make perfect judgments or decisions.

Here's an example to illustrate my point: I became embroiled a couple of weeks ago in a debate regarding homosexuality, specifically the nature of it.  What was most surprising about this debate was that it was begun by a woman who grew up in the church & claims Christ as her Savior.  And yet, in the course of our dialogue, she made it clear that she considers homosexuality to be perfectly normal & sinless.  Now, where would she have gotten this notion?  Certainly not from Scripture, for - as I pointed out - God's Word is replete with condemnation for this "dishonorable" (Rom. 1:26-27) & "unnatural" (Jude 1:7) "abomination" (Lev. 18:22 & 20:13).  She paid no heed.  So, if Scripture isn't her final authority, what is?  It turns out she is her own authority, & that is a most precarious position in which to be.

In our Sunday school lesson today, we discussed how we don't want to be servants of the King, but our own mini-kings.  Our fondest desire is to see our own desires fulfilled.  So, we set ourselves up on the thrones of our hearts, determining that whatever we deem to be good & right is reality.  We put ourselves in the center, in the place of authority . . . & thus lead ourselves & those who follow our example to wreck & ruin.

We all need to steer by True North - a stable, constant, unwavering, & trustworthy Authority.  Such is the Word of God, & such should be the foundation of all of our lives.  It's the only guide that won't lead us off course.