A story is told of a man who went to his doctor complaining that every time he touched his knee, he experienced great pain. The doctor ordered all kinds of tests to see what the problem was with the man’s knee, but the tests showed no problems. The doctor prescribed a pain killer which alleviated the problem for a while. A few days later the man was back at the doctor’s office complaining that every time he touched his elbow he was experiencing the same great pain. So the doctor ordered tests on the elbow, and again, found nothing. The man was sent home and told to continue the pain pills. It wasn’t too long until he was back, this time complaining that every time he touched his toes he experienced the same great pain. New tests were performed but with the same negative results. Finally the doctor exclaimed, “I know what your problem is. You have a broken finger!” Having diagnosed the problem correctly, the doctor was able to prescribe a treatment that was able to provide a lasting cure.
Our country is experiencing a great deal of pain. Like the man and the doctor in the story above, we are looking to someone to provide a cure for it. And, like the story above, we are misdiagnosing the problem, and consequently not finding a lasting cure. At best we pass a few laws or repeal some, and we riot and protest to vent our frustrations, but all those things only anesthetize the pain for a moment, but they never cure a thing.
The Old Testament prophet Micah called the nation of Israel to repentance. Israel had forgotten its God and was practicing idolatry. The idolatry was manifested in two forms. They worshipped other gods (a violation of the first commandment) and they worshipped the true God inappropriately (a violation of the second commandment). Duvall and Hays in their book, Grasping God’s Word, write, “They trivialize the significance of God’s presence in their midst. They think that only ritual is required of them. They draw the illogical conclusion that proper ritual will cover over other covenant violations like social injustice and idolatry.” So Micah correctly diagnoses Israel’s problem and provides a cure. He proclaims, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (6:8). Ravi Zacharias writes in, Jesus Among Secular Gods, “If you remove the third of Micah’s imperatives (to walk humbly before your God), you are left with the same terminology as humanism espouses: justice and compassion. “ Zacharias then points out that Jesus summarized all of the Old Testament Law with loving God first, and then loving one’s neighbor. Zacharias concludes, “In other words, loving God and the resulting love for humanity are not only inextricably bound, but apart from that all else of morality has no other ground on which to stand… Truth-telling, sanctity of sex, sanctity of life, sanctity of ownership, etc., none is greater and none can be legitimate except based on the vertical relationship with God.”
In our society, God is being increasingly replaced with other gods such as the god of materialism, or the god of sensuality, and many others. And even where God is “worshipped,” the worship has been transformed into mere ritualism. Science has concluded that God has not created us. Industry has concluded that God is not necessary for profitability. Intellectualism has concluded that God cannot be tolerated in discussion or allowed in the classroom. We have all but eliminated the presence of God in society and then we wonder why man is so violent against man.
When society sees God for who He truly is and then sees others as created in His image, then we will finally have the cure to all of the social ills we are painfully experiencing today. But until we come to know the only true God (John 17:3), we will be examining knees and elbows and toes and not dealing with the problem that is in our hearts.