For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
A friend I love and respect knew I was headed off to another of my many construction industry conferences. He asked, “Is this your Annual Tar Convention? “Tar!” I thought, “Nooo! Its the National Asphalt Paving Association’s annual meeting! It’s ASPHALT! Not tar!! Dear Lord!!! Do you not know that asphalt is the most recycled material in the world and that 90% of the roads we use are made from it. Strangely though, at the same time as I was mastering my defensive thoughts, I knew that for many of us asphalt devotees, this gathering may have been more appropriately promoted as Tar’s (or Whatever’s) 2015 Annual Broken Cistern Conference.
This is not a blanket judgement on capitalism and its partner democracy. Not at all. They have created the most stable culture in the history of earth. No, capitalism and democracy are not the two specific evils Jeremiah is referring to, but at the same time, they could be. Allow me to explain.
If my construction brethren and I have lost sight of the fact that God is the creator of hydrocarbons and the giver of the intellectual-technical gifts that allow us to produce asphaltic cement and build roads with it; if we are greedily lavishing upon ourselves the spoils of our profits then we have forsaken our God. If our corporate and personal goals are purely financial and we are simply using asphalt as our ticket to material blessing then we have hewn out for ourselves cisterns that are indeed cracked. Sadly, they will never hold living water – the very thing they were designed to do and the only thing that will satisfy our native hunger and thirst. How truly tragic that we could be guilty on this count of evil, simply by living out the American Dream.
Evil?! Really?!! I am sure the fine looking professional people with their wives and children walking the granite and marble corridors of the Marriott would find the idea that they were guilty of evil as preposterous. It is understandable though. Would their pastors, dependent and grateful for their tithe as they are, want to tackle the idolatry and materialism as it pertained to them? I’m thinking probably not. No, evil among conservative upper middle class Americans is represented by those committing violent crimes and perhaps worse, those who do not believe as they do.
If however evil is redefined and ranked in terms of those things which cause the greatest harm to the greatest number of people over the longest period of time (I’m thinking of hell) then broken-cistern Christianity where Living Water is wasted daily (and called “normal”) is culpable. If we have discredited the gospel with our lives which convey that surrender to Christ as Lord and walking in the Spirit are optional tracks for special “called out ones” then a benign-appearinmg evil has infected our ranks. The enemy will rule us as long as we continue to measure Christianity by our own standards instead of the New Testament and better standards that Jesus foretold and the apostles preached. How many perish because of western Christianity’s accommodation of Christianity without true discipleship?
To some whose grasp of God’s sovereignty disallows questions this essay will be folly at best and an intrusive misleading heresy at worst. However, to those who are hungering and thirsting they will find encouragement because someone is saying their questions are not invalid, their broken hearts are not irrelevant. In fact their holy dissatisfactions (minūte as they might appear in the grand scheme of things) are likely the sprouting of the kingdom seeds God has planted which ultimately grow into a place where men can take refuge and find safety.
Holy dissatisfaction is a pivotal crossroads in our journey. One leads to liberty and another leads to bitterness posing as a super spirituality. When the idea of dissatisfaction first crosses our minds the enemy will be present telling us it is the church’s fault for serving us an inadequate diet of spiritual nourishment. He may throw in a few people who have always rubbed us wrong to sweeten his next proposal which is typically, “You need to find a new church”.
In a quieter voice, the Holy Spirit will also be speaking. He will be saying, “Watch over your own heart. For your own good, don’t pass the blame of your barrenness onto others.” If we follow the Spirit’s path we will find that He is present and that he was always present. We will discover that crediting God by faith for who he is (aka; renewing our minds) we will discover that he has prepared a feast for us in the presence of our enemies. New horizons we only dared to imagine will begin appearing on the horizon.
It is the Father’s glory to deliver his children from their worldly affections, from whatever tar we have given our lives to, from whatever cisterns we have hewn for ourselves. But first we have to know where we have become stuck to this world. We must humble ourselves in this way in the sight of the Lord.
Father, deliver us from all evil for Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forevermore.Make us vessels of honor Lord that can not only hold living water put who can pour it out for those you have placed around us. Amen.
Did I mention that asphalt is the most recycled material in the world?