Saturday, April 25, 2009


Happy Saturday!

Default. Say the word a few times and take stock of your feelings and reactions. Dread? Disdain? Fear? Whatever...?

People have defaulted on home mortgage loan payments. When that happens, they are foreclosed by their lenders. They become homeless, and they have a seriously ruined credit history. Ouch! One understanding of default.

Then there was the term "credit default swaps" that became an infamous household word over the past year. The very sound of it should conjure up something shady, something stupid, something deceptive. Something that should be illegal. Right on! Except that these house-of-cards "financial instruments" or "derivatives" seemed like the geese that couldn't stop laying golden eggs. Until they did. So long as them eggs were a-rollin', we couldn't be bothered to question how long things might last, what might happen when the bubble burst. No, our 401K's and IRA's were growing nicely and we (some of us anyway) could spend and plan like we were rich and getting ever richer. We liked that. We didn't want to hear from default.

Default. It's also on your computer with your word processing page setup options. Default is what the settings go to if you don't choose to alter them. It's the position we fall back on when we don't have another. Sort of like blackberry vines, dandelions and moss here in Portland. It's what your yard will turn into unless you work very hard to change it--every flippin' day!

Hard for us to imagine the worldview of the people in Jesus' time. We assume they were all heathen agnostics. But there probably were no such things. After all, when so many things happened around you that you had absolutely no explanation for, everything from toothaches to flu and diarrhea to lightning, thunder, earthquakes and floods, you were pretty sure that you weren't in control and something, somebody, much more powerful was. Everybody had gods, and God. Whole bunches. Greece was not short on temples. Neither was Rome.

Our default position is that everyone was hopeless, resigned to going to hell when they died or when the "end of the world" scenarios of Revelation played out--never mind the fact that John's Apocalypse hadn't been written yet, wasn't quoted by Jesus, and probably isn't about the end of the world but about an incredible restoration effort. No, there were no science fiction books or "Left Behind" Christian fiction bestsellers. There weren't even any Christians.

So everybody was obviously going to hell, right? Seems the Almighty God, Creator of the Universe was absolutely stumped. Had created laws that people violated (they sinned!) and He would just have to burn 'em all up for it. Didn't exactly like the plan but had spent at least 4K years completely stymied and stumped by the corner He'd painted himself into.

Until one day, "Eureka!" He stumbled on this never-before-envisioned plan. He'd have his Son executed by the Romans, and pile everyone's sins on him. Now God could at last forgive those scumbag sinners and save a few of 'em. Of course, for those who had already died or never heard about the plan it was too late. They were already burnin', and God couldn't change His mind about 'em or then He'd be inconsistent and therefore no longer God. And then...

Is this your default position? Then what about David's forgiveness from God? After adultery, murder, official lies and denials, and a huge a coverup. Or did God just make exceptions for a few special dudes who happened to be in the lineage? Is that your default position? It seems to be the default position of 99% of the Christian sermons I've heard over my lifetime.

What do you think the burnin' question of the day for people in Jesus' time really was? What do you think their default position was? Consider it, at last leaving your own prejudices and assumptions out of the picture.

I'd like to know...


Pastor Roger

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