Conscience Bound Flight

I see the human conscience like a flight recorder. The “black box”—which is actually orange (Maybe that just makes it easier to find?). It’s the first piece of the wreckage that crews will search for when digging through a crash site. It records all the activity that went on during a flight. A flight that never made it to its final destination.

Now, Jesus is the only way to Heaven (the main reason I agree with this theological assertion is because Jesus said it Himself: John 14:6). But upon arrival, I believe that He will take our conscience as the “flight recorder” for our life. Oswald Chambers says that the conscience “attaches itself to the highest that we know”. So, when Paul refers to the conscience, as he does many times in his letters (1 Corinthians chapters 8 and 10; 1 Timothy 1:5)–it also features in Acts 23:1, 24:16–it’s understood that we as Christians have taken the time to “attach” our conscience with the highest, namely Jesus. Paul wrote that “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). This is true, so develop it. Think along His lines. “Renew” (Romans 12:2) your mind so it’s aligned with His. Whatever chemicals (serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, etc.) that regulate how we feel physiologically, are servants to our will. And as we use our will to think along Jesus’ lines, then our brain will follow suit. I don’t pretend to know all of the neuroscience behind our conscience and thought processes and feel-good chemicals, and part of me doesn’t care. I don’t worry about how my food is digested upon finishing lunch. I just know it was delicious. And that I’m grateful. If I had to figure out the digestive process prior to my first-ever meal, I would have died a long time ago.

It’s almost as if God, in refusing to allow His creation to outsmart Him, decided to put a “governor” on humans that will keep them in line in spite of them not knowing Him anymore because of sin. Namely our conscience. Jesus says “and as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31)–the Golden Rule. And people generally abide by this. Paul wrote in the second chapter of his letter to the Christians in Rome, that those people who didn’t get the law (of Moses) do those things contained therein by following their conscience. This is a loose translation. Read Paul’s highly nuanced explanation if you have time.

Paul says, in his second letter to the Christians in Corinth (4:2), that he and Timothy had “commend[ed] themselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” This is a powerful statement, considering that, in order for them to care about appealing to someone else’s conscience (making them at ease with what they were bringing to the interaction, i.e. the Gospel), they themselves needed a clear conscience. And that they had aligned their own with the life of Jesus to such a degree that their conscience meshed with those to whom they preached. The Holy Spirit’s in and around those interactions, by the way. And with us, in our lives and interactions, this refers to anyone who is doing the best they can, in honesty, with what they know.

Here’s the dark side: those whose “black boxes”, if I may, are actually black–their conscience having been “seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:2)–are able through simple mental acrobatics, to act any way you want. They effectively negate the Golden Rule by doing unto others the very opposite of what is right, what is true–in spite of acting “correctly”. Paul’s words of honesty toward the Corinthians are prefaced with his admission that he had “renounced the hidden things of dishonesty” and had received a “manifestation of the truth”. This is what gave him the confidence to appeal to others’ conscience: his own was clear.

The Holy Spirit is a person and one of the ways He speaks to us is through our conscience. We need to be sure and heed the “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12) and not suppress it. I, for one, would like to retain the capacity to feel, thank you very much.

What is the Holy Spirit speaking to you through your own conscience?

National Resurrection

“Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34)

Whether you believe in God or not, the fact that you have the freedom to believe or the freedom to doubt is integral to the fabric of this nation. Ten years ago that fabric hung, tattered and knotted as we struggled in disbelief at the attacks on the East Coast. I watched from my TV, having just come back home from delivering a missed customer on my paper route. It took a long time to process what I saw and still some of the details are hazy. Like the New York skyline for weeks following.

Did God cause it to happen? Absolutely not. But I believe He was powerless to prevent it.

As it says in Proverbs (16:7), “if our ways please the Lord, He’ll cause our enemies to be at peace with us”. The pundits, preachers, poets, priests and politicians (thank you, Sting) pointed at this sin and that “sin” and blamed each other. Conspiracy theories littered the landscape like detritus from the war of ideologies. And yet, following this tack, it was indeed an inside job. Inside our hearts and minds we shut God out. All of the apathy and hate and ingratitude rising to heaven, we sacrificed compassion and conscience for hate and hedonism and as such the door was left open for the enemy. We paid the price. And as Ed Roland (of Collective Soul, in an unrelated song;10 Years Later) sings: “it’s 10 years later and still I haven’t a clue”. I see today, the same apathetic attitude we were infected with a decade ago.

God’s forgiveness is still extant and extravagant. Love, as Peter says (1 Peter 4:8), covers a multitude of sins. Any outward, behavioral sin, “a reproach to any people” (again, Proverbs 14:34), begins—towards God (Psalms 51:4)—in the heart and mind. So, too, do the virtues. A lukewarm heart, veneered over with rudimentary morality isn’t going to last. Let us turn to God again and let Him heal our nation (2 Chronicles 7:14). We need to “put aside the alienation” as Rush sang in Limelight. Only when we renew our minds (Romans 12:1-2) to the truths in God’s word will we experience real healing and prosperity. And freedom. From sin, violence and apathy. His love, mercy and grace will help us if we ask.

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Cultivating Authenticity

Humanity pursues truth.

Let me rephrase that, humanity pursues what it thinks is true and has no way or means of truly knowing if the ideology or belief system they’ve found is true (as compared to God, who is ultimate truth, bear with me here). This is one level (Postmodernism). If it works for them and if their conscience isn’t bothered then it’s good enough. Of course this is subjective. If someone’s conscience is less sensitive than the other person’s then you’re bound to encounter hard feelings and misunderstandings. Okay, apologize, move on. Maybe you’ll learn from this and even make an acquaintance.

Consider the exhortations of people—religious and non—who are on fire about whatever it is that they’re passionate about. They found the truth and now they want you to know—and convert. But do they care about you? Really care? Why are they telling you how they came to find the(ir) truth, wherever it happened to be? What’s their motive? Look in their eyes. Anyone not willing to be a friend first is not worth listening to, I say. Make a friend.

Here’s what I believe: Jesus is the Truth.
However, I also believe that people are smart. (these statements are not mutually exclusive). They listen to what you’ve said. “Doth not the ear try words?” (Job 12:11) and if you (a professing Christian) are not right with God, then the Holy Spirit—The Spirit of Truth—most likely will not be released to back up your words and witness to their heart what you’ve said.

This is why it’s imperative that we as Christians keep our hearts transparent before the Lord, our sins under His blood and our testimony pure. Jesus says that the pure in heart will see God (Matthew 5:8). Then when we talk to people about the Jesus we know, they’ll see through us (in a good way) to Jesus. See also Luke 16:8.