Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Current Study: First Peter
Today’s Topic: We’re Empty
Today’s Scripture: 1 Peter 1:18-19 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
Eighty-four years ago today, high school science teacher John Scopes was arrested in Tennessee for teaching the theory of evolution in a public school. It was a contrived attempt to accomplish to goals. First, a few men from Dayton, Tennessee, had decided that their city needed more recognition, and thought that a trial of this magnitude would generate the publicity they wanted. Second, and more importantly, the American Civil Liberties Union was notified of the plan, and they agreed to pay the legal fees of any teacher who would put the Tennessee law that required teachers to teach creation to the test. They quickly agreed, running a full-page ad in the Chattanooga Times the day before Scopes was arrested.
Scopes was convicted of teaching evolution, something to which he had already admitted. But the trial was not really about Scopes’ guilt or innocence; it was about whether or not God should be the foundation of our educational system. When the verdict was announced, a vocal critic of the trial, who was also a reporter named H.L. Mencken, explained to readers of the Baltimore Sun and the American Mercury:
All that remains of the great cause of the State of Tennessee against the infidel Scopes is the formal business of bumping off the defendant. There may be some legal jousting on Monday and some gaudy oratory on Tuesday, but the main battle is over, with Genesis completely triumphant. Judge Raulston finished the benign business yesterday morning by leaping with soft judicial hosannas into the arms of the prosecution.
Unfortunately, it was not the end. An appeal was filed. Scopes conviction was overturned by the state Supreme Court on a technicality. However, that same court upheld the constitutionality of the state law forbidding the teaching of evolution. But that started a nationwide battle in multiple states, and eventually the United States Supreme Court, which resulted in not only the legalization of teaching evolution, but also the outlawing of the teaching of creation.
On the official Library of Congress web site is this quote about the results of the trial. This would appear to be the official position of our government’s historical records on this subject. While volumes of scientific evidence support the theory of evolution, many felt that it contradicted the story of creation as described in the Bible and thus did not want evolution taught in schools…The trial did bring Dayton, Tennessee a great deal of publicity, mostly comprised of reinforcements of a stereotype of the south as an intellectual backwater, certainly not the type Daytonians had hoped to attract.
Wow! Those who believe in creation and deny evolution are called stagnant intellectuals. The reason I share all of that with you is very simple yet very profound – we live in a world that seeks to eliminate the need for God’s involvement in human affairs, and goes so far as to eliminate the very existence of God. According to the majority of people alive today, all man needs can be found in man. If honesty were to ever prevail, people living under such a belief system would have to declare that they are empty.
Lee Atwater, former Republican Party chairman, said this before he died: “The eighties were about acquiring: wealth, power, and prestige. I know. I acquired more wealth and power and prestige than most. But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty.”
I remember what Tom Landry said years ago, just after they had won the Super Bowl. “The overwhelming emotion—in a few days, among the players on the Dallas Cowboys football team—was how empty that goal was. There must be something more.”
As we discovered yesterday, we are called to live our lives as strangers to this world. That is only possible if we come to this realization – everything in this world from which we seek to gain approval, acceptance, or acquisitions, will leave us empty. None of the things the world offers can rescue us from the empty way of life we live. Most of us claim to know that, and say we have experienced the redeeming power of the blood of Jesus Christ. HOWEVER, even though we say we know this great salvation, we continue to pursue the things of the world to fill the emptiness we claim to still feel.
Why? Well, I think it’s truly a heart issue. We haven’t yet fully surrendered our lives to Christ. There is only one reason for a sense of emptiness in our lives – God doesn’t fill that part of our life. And as long as we don’t let Him completely fill us, and continue to pursue other means of satisfaction apart from Him, we will continue to be empty.