Back in May, I was at my eldest son Jared's baseball game. It was intense for me because he was pitching, which means that I get pretty involved with what he is doing and how that impacts the game. This game was actually going pretty well and the score was close. An exciting ending occurred when, in the last inning, his team won the home game with a walk-off hit. Afterward, I had the chance to congratulate some of the players and chat it up with a few of the other parents. Then after a little while, Jared and I got in the car, continuing our talk of the game, and headed home. About the time we rolled into our driveway 10 minutes later, it happened.
Yeah, it happened. It was a call from another parent who informed me that my youngest son, Janssen, was still at the field! You see, I forgot him. I got so tied up thinking about what had happened in the game that I lost my focus on who and what I was responsible for. Fortunately, the parent who called was already bringing the young lad to my house. When they arrived, there was definitely a tinge of unhappiness in him having been forgotten. I immediately owned up to my failure and was forgiven. But it got me thinking how easy it is to forget, even those things that are most important.
Have you ever forgotten something? It might have been something as trivial as your coffee mug on the top of your car, and what reminded you was seeing it in the rear view mirror disintegrating like an Indy car that had just crashed into a wall. Maybe you have forgotten a certain anniversary or a birthday, and what reminded you was a heartsick look. Perhaps in the interest of some pursuit, you have become so intense, so focused that you have forgotten or disregarded an important moral standard which then consequently, became public. For each forgetful episode in life, it seems there is corresponding trouble.
What happens when your faith is forgotten? How does it impact your life when God is compartmentalized? You know, like put in the bottom drawer of one's life like a Christmas sweater and only accessed on special occasions. What is the corresponding trouble to forgetting God?
No. 1. If your faith is put on the back burner, you are in danger of succumbing to moral relativism. Moral relativistic thinking advances the idea that standards of right and wrong are mere products of time and culture. What is morally right today may not be tomorrow and vice versa. It rejects the belief of an ultimate Moral Law Giver. An advanced form of moral relativism is demonstrated way back in the biblical book of Judges (17:6) where it says, "... everyone did as he saw fit." It was not a pretty sight. When God is not acknowledged and his ways are rejected, then what is right becomes a series of divergent opinions.
We see this today. For example, the Ten Commandments are a part of the fabric of our society, but for some years now there has been an undercurrent to rip them out. The premise of the Ten Commandments is that Almighty God has spoken on issues such as the high value placed on life and the appropriate bounds of sexuality. But, for example, as a society we call adultery nothing more than a tryst or an affair and "someone's choice in their own life that does not have anything to do with their professional life." God has given us tracks on which to run our railcars, and when we forget those we are headed for a train wreck. Moral relativism wrecks individuals, families and communities.
No. 2. If your faith is forgotten, pride and haughtiness may not be far behind. With God out of the picture, you may become fatalistic which basically means, "Whatever is going to happen is going to happen," therefore I am going to get mine. Self-absorption is the way of life only looking out for number one.
You may avoid the path of fatalism, but then you are more than likely to indulge in egoism. Just like King Nebuchadnezzar from Daniel 4:30, "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty (emphasis mine)?" When you are egocentric, thankfulness is a pat on the back by your own hand because you are responsible for your own destiny. But God has a way of humbling the proud as he did Nebuchadnezzar (if you get a chance, read on!). When we do not recognize God's greatness and provision in our lives, we are misinformed about where goodness comes from.
No. 3. When you forget God, you will get a logical result that is reproducing more of you. You will multiply offspring that will not have a moral compass because of relativism and individuals who are self-absorbed. I honestly believe from my experience that most people, if you ask them, contend there is a God who rules the universe. However, with life's activity, burdens and challenges, their actions may not completely prove this contention.
Have you lost your focus on who and what you are responsible for? Would you consider making the choice and taking the steps to remember God? Imagine what would happen in our community if many experience a revitalization of their faiths. I can imagine it — it would be a great awakening! One to remember for ages to come.
Norm Byers is the lead pastor of Genesis Church, with two locations. NEW TIMES: Meeting Sundays at 9:30 a.m. at North Central Michigan College and 11 a.m. at Boyne City Elementary. Comments and insights are welcomed on Twitter @NormByers.