This Empty Old House
October 16, 2011 Leave a comment
Jesus, after responding to the Pharisees and teachers of the law regarding a sign of his authority said this:
“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.” The Gospel of Matthew chapter 12 vs. 43-45
Notice here that everything is “swept clean and put in order”. There is a sense that everything is OK because everything looks so good. In fact, things appear normal. Yet, the home is vacant, not being used for its purpose. It is a shell of a place waiting for life.
The homeowner is not home. Maybe the owner is out living wildly, living the high life. Maybe, he is out being busy helping others or the environment or …
It doesn’t matter where the homeowner is. If the homeowner doesn’t come home, if he doesn’t even look inside he won’t see what is going on inside, he won’t see who or what is living in his home.
You should know that the whole purpose of the Evil One and His minions is to keep you occupied ‘outside’ of yourself so that you never realize what is going on inside. He doesn’t want any meaningful introspection or self-examination. This might lead to a person to seeing their need for Christ. And, without the homeowner’s honest self-reflection the pretense of a normal well-polished life goes on uninterrupted.
While a homeowner is narcissistically occupied with how he looks on the outside instead of reflecting on what is happening on the inside his home is an easy target for vagrants that move in unnoticed. Unbridled chaos is sure to ensue in the home without the homeowner present. This type of “non-resident” homeowner will operate under the guise of a well-controlled “normalcy” and will even use lies and scapegoating to protect that veneer of normalcy.
Martin Buber, a noted philosopher, has said that the malignantly narcissistic insist upon “affirmation independent of all findings.” In other words, they want you to tell them that their house is looking good and that things are normal but don’t dare tell them the rest. These people, these “homeowners”, do not want you to name the problems that you see going on inside. To name it would mean that there is a problem, a defect within the home. Denial by these “homeowners” keeps them at a safe distance away from the problem. And while they are away they chose to be occupied full-time with attention-getting measures well apart from their true unexamined self. This leaves the house “unoccupied, swept-clean and in order”.
Reinforcing the homeowner’s self-valuation of his “property” is the world community with a culture promoting narcissism. Keeping up with the Joneses means more and more external fixes and less and less real home inspections.
Add to that the newest electronic gadgetry which is endlessly sought in order to pacify the mind and to fill our time with endless chatter and noise – anything but to face the drip, drip, drip of our conscience.
The homeowner’s absence can often be accounted for by a prodigal’s lust for secularism and/or atheism and/or a playful agnosticism – anything to keep from being at home alone with the truth.
Consequently, our lives and our country have become vacuums for whatever is “out there” waiting to come in. and, it is the Evil One Who wants to come in to your “home” and put his feet up. He knows that the empty and disillusioned will be out busy doing his bidding seeking to hold it all together, seeking to make the world a better place through pagan ideologies, to rise above the fray of imperfection. He knows that these same people will seek social policies and reforms to dress up the neighborhood, increasing the value of his own “home”
Postmodern man while looking through the windows of his empty clean house searches for something to fill its void. He spots man made rainbows with their promises for self-fulfillment, brotherhood, world peace, etc. He then scurries out to grab hold of those colorful ribbons. But they are empty promises, condensation which evaporates in his hand when he returns home and stands at the threshold of his empty home.
Postmodern man fancies himself as an intellectual above and beyond the simple wisdom and knowledge of the Creator Christ and His Good News of Atonement, the Gospel. Countless verbose posts blather on in confused pagan ideological nonsense. And, pretentious rapid-fire Tweets pretend to be “so knowing” in 140 characters or less. The words come from empty places, filling the space and time given us by the Creator with constant noise and endless chatter. This din blocks out the voice of God. He is calling us home.
In his swept and clean house, modern man often feeds his self-pity with promiscuous self-serving behavior. He papers the walls of his empty house with tattoos – banners testifying to the past demons that have lived there. He is lord of his manor or is he?
Turning to main point of this post, sadly, many Christians are standing outside their homes. They are compromised. And, many churches teach about a kind and compassionate Jesus but not about the fire and the sword Lord Jesus Christ. Many people, Christian and non-Christian “homeowners”, want the Jesus who welcomes them home but not the Jesus who will cast out the demons who are living there.
Because of soft-selling doctrines and the preaching of partial truths via synthetic gospels the person in the pew begins to feel that he, too, can compromise his Christian doctrine-ethics at every turn. He will tell himself (compassionately, of course) that he is only trying to survive and at the same time trying to be socially concerned and accepting about others. These same “followers” of Christ are never told that lukewarm Christians will be spewed out of the mouth of the Lord Jesus Christ and that sexual fornicators do not enter the kingdom of heaven.
As I see it, much of the American church, has lost the touchstone of the Early Christian church creeds and Truth. Many have left behind doctrine in search of Holy Grail social and political reforms hoping to fill the vacancies of our empty “homes”.
Dorothy Sayers, author of the Peter Wimsey mystery novels and Christian apologist would say that we as Christians have a choice: Creed or Chaos? She would say that we must know what the creeds are and what they rightly stand for before we go to battle with the pagan world. She notes that we as Christians are in a war of dogmas. Only, the pagan side’s dogma is termed “ideology”.
I am praying for a revival in this country. Revival will begin when the early Christian church creeds and dogmas are held to be true by today’s Christian, when the Christian is present to them and to himself. It will happen when Christians pour the foundations of their own homes with the concrete truth of those creeds and the Christian puts his whole weight on those creeds. It will happen when the abundant life brought by the Holy Spirit indwells the homeowner as he stands in his home. Then, from out of this place, as Dorothy Sayers wrote in Creed or Chaos, the Christian may speak to his neighbor about God, man, sin, judgment, matter, work and society.
A swept-clean house is great but of what value is it if no one comes home and is present. And, what else could be living in this empty old house?