Below you can see a poll taken by the Barna Institute n the summer of 2015. Note this is not a poll of Christians, but of the general population. Polls are not airtight. What the specific question was, how many people were asked, what their background was, etc. can all play a roll in the final statistics. But polls like this can give us a general feel for the trajectory of a society. Sometimes when we hear a presidential candidate is ahead in the polls by 10 percentage points we know that poll does not sync with reality we see around us. Something is off. However, with this Barna poll, we are not surprised by what we read. What the poll says is lines up with what we see in the world around us. When the poll says that 76% of people under the age 24 do not think it is wrong to watch sexually explicit scenes on TV or in a movie is anyone surprised? You can read the whole report along with some analysis here. Here are few randoms thoughts I had from the report.
Psalm 119:17-19 reminds us that the grace of God is essential for obedience to his Word and understanding of his Word. The Psalmist understands that he is weak and blind. He knows that God’s Word requires much of him. He knows that God’s Word is often shrouded in darkness. The meaning and the application of it can be hard to discern. He knows the human heart is like a rock unable to receive the seed of the Word. He knows that we are fallen, weak men who need God’s strength to help us obey. Therefore he begins this third section of Psalm 119 with a plea for help.
He asks God to deal bountifully with him. This word is used in several other Psalms to express God’s great kindness (Psalm 13:6, 116:7, 142:7). The psalmist is asking the Lord to open up the treasures of his grace and pour out his goodness upon him. The psalmist is a servant of the Lord. But what does he ask God to do for him? He wants God to be kind to him by helping him walk according to God’s Word. What a great prayer! Oh, Lord show me your grace so that I might obey your commandments. The Psalmist understands that grace, God’s unmerited kindness, precedes obedience. If he is going to live and keep the Word, grace must come first.
Finally the psalmist asks God to unveil his Word because he is as stranger in this world. He, like all Christians, is passing through looking for that final house whose builder is God. It is the nature of man to find himself too at home in the world. He forgets eternity and his own immortality. He becomes too entangled in the affairs of this earth and the end becomes blurry. An older author described this as putting anchors down in the world. We become tied to this world by a thousand ropes. While Christians can and should enjoy the many gifts God gives in this life, our eyes should not lose sight of the final destination. Calvin says we are to “aspire after the place we are invited.” We are to long for our heavenly home. But why does this lead the psalmist to pray that God would not hide his commandments from him? What is the connection between being a stranger in this world and seeing God’s commands rightly?
The key point of these three verses is that we need the grace of God to obey his Word, to understand his Word, and to use his word to guide us in this world.
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