Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Monday, February 23, 2015

Lent: Headless Snakes And Deadly Diseases...Not Your Light And Airy Topic

The brilliant 19th century English preacher Charles Spurgeon recounts a story in one of his sermons told to him by a missionary from some remote third world jungle.  In the story, the missionary's wife is in the kitchen preparing a meal when a large, venomous snake slithers in, scaring her half to death. One of the locals hears her calling, runs to the rescue and machete's the head off of that viper.

Perhaps this part is exaggerated, but it serves to make my point: apparently that snake continued to thrash around that kitchen for an hour in its headless state, wreaking havoc and damaging the rudimentary furnishings.  Snakes must have some sort of weird nervous system, much like the proverbial "chicken with its head cut off", still able to slash and crash for a little while despite the fact that the are indeed, dead.

These times we live in, they may be modern but the ancient war rages on that has since the beginning.
The fault line of sin runs deep within our race...deep within each one of us.  There is no human cure.  There is no trying hard enough to be good, no meditating our way out of it, no amount of the milk of human kindness that can overcome it.  There is only one antidote, and it can't be purchased for any amount of money.  It must be received as a free gift, killing all hope of human pride and ego.  

On top of the problem of sin there is a headless snake thrashing about on our shipwrecked planet, doing all manner of evil in hope of destroying his arch enemy's ultimate plan:  the saving of the fallen race, the restoring of the broken planet, the redemption of the world He made.

Lent is a time to take a serious look at the hard fact of our personal fault line.  Repentance is not self flagellation, but a turning.  It is recognizing sin for what it is: that which separates us from our Father. There's nothing for it but to man up and call it what it is, take the medicine of the forgiveness and mercy of Christ, and TURN.

This is not a popular topic, I know.  I'm not enjoying writing about it.  Especially since I have an offense of my own bothering me at this very moment.  The turning will require apologizing and that age old companion of men, pride, has its grip down pretty tightly.  There will be a tearing. Repentance hurts while it heals.

As for the snake, he continues to seek who he can devour.  He tempts us to justify ourselves and thus lay aside the need for repentance.  He thrashes and lies and wars begin.  He thrashes and lies and families break up.  He thrashes and lies and men compromise for gain, gossip for pleasure, lust for what will kill them.  This has been the plan of God's enemy from the beginning.  To destroy that which God loves.

Lent is all about the counter intelligence of God in Christ.  When the innocent Son of God died on the cross, the serpent's head was cut off forever.  In the words of Martin Luther..."lo, his doom is sure."  There is no venom left in Beelzebub.  He can make a mess, but the cure for the deadly disease of sin is done and done.  All that remains is for us to go to the hospital and take the serum.  Sacrificial love destroys even death.

Self and Satan...both have been confronted by the One who loves us.  He cut off the snake's head and He continues to administer the cure for our deadly disease. One day too, the snake will be still.

No, not a light and airy topic.  But one I need today.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


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