There’s a bunch of old British poems that go something like this:
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and plot.
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
So... do you remember why the fifth of November should never be forgot? Every year, people in Great Britain come together to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day, lighting bonfires and shooting off fireworks and generally having a great time -- because Guy Fawkes was such a hero, right?
No -- it’s because they’re celebrating the day that terrorist Guy Fawkes failed to blow up Parliament and assassinate King James (hint: they make dummies of Guy Fawkes and throw him into the bonfires to burn him in effigy more than 400 years in a row).
To those following Guy Fawkes, he was a hero... but to everyone else, he was the quintessential villain. He was everything that we fear today in homegrown terrorists, mass-murdering gunmen, etc., all rolled up into one guy. So they hate him and keep on hating him (hold onto that thought for a moment).
In our message this week, we built off of what we’ve been talking about for the past several weeks -- the idea that the Reformation was crucially important to our understanding of Scripture and salvation, and the equally crucial importance of continuing on in our own, personal Reformation each and every day. If we’re not continually reforming our own hearts, then we’re constantly in danger of blithely settling into the same worldly forms that we fought to rebel against in following Jesus.
The truth is, every action of our lives, every word out of our mouths, every priority that we live by is an act of obedience to one regime and rebellion to another. By that action, we’re following Christ and standing against the world. With that comment, we’re conforming to how the world would react and rebelling against God’s will. When we choose to make that priority our goal in life, we’re picking where exactly we’re investing our treasures and our hearts. At any given moment, we’re following one master or another -- but we can never follow two at the same time.
So it’s worth stopping and asking ourselves questions such as: “Which regime am I going to follow? This world, or the Kingdom of God?” or “Which master am I going to put on the throne? My knee-jerk instincts, or Jesus Christ?” or “In truth, what’s my primary object of worship? Some thing or accomplishment in this temporary place, or my eternal and unchanging Lord and Saviour?” Because at any given moment, we can only pick one or the other... and if we don’t consciously think about it, then we’ll tend to pick the easiest, most tangible, most immediate master...
But bear in mind that whichever regime you stand with, the other one will rightly see you as being a rebel. Depending on the stand you take for Christ, the world may even hate you for it, and keep on hating you. There’s a cost to being a square peg surrounded by round holes, and it can sometimes be far more than just feeling awkward.
So stop and think before you open your mouth or make that decision. Stop and think about who you’re choosing to follow and who you’re rebelling against. Stop and think about the cost of your decision... and then make sure to consciously make the right choice...