Malachi 2:17 – 3:4
You have wearied the LORD with your words, yet you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “All evildoers are good in the sight of the LORD, and he is pleased with them,” or “Where is the just God?”
I know I am personally tired of hearing about all of these scandals that are going on in regards to priests, but there was more of it in the news this last week. I also know I am tired of hearing of all of the… perversions in society in regards to sexuality. What may not be obvious to you is that these two items are related. What is the relationship, and why am I speaking about it again this weekend?
It has to do with the first verse prior to our reading from Malachi. (read it) Evildoers are committing evil. That’s what the word means! But there are some people who want to insist that, because God is a merciful God, he will not condemn anyone to hell for all eternity. But this goes completely against what Scripture says and what common sense says. If you remain unrepentant in regards to things that you have done, you’re not going to want to stand before God where he is the righteous judge!
This is what our reading from today tells us. God is ready, and has been ready, to release his judgment on a world that does not understand the risks they are taking. I have said before that I want to see God’s mercy, I don’t want to fall before his justice. The reading from Malachi, as I said, proceeds from the verse that I quoted. I don’t want to stand here and repeat the exact words that you’ve already heard, but I think it bears some attention.
There is going to be a reckoning. The result of that will be a purification. And, as Malachi says, primary among the purification will be the Levites, who were the priests in the temple. So what does that mean for us? Should we be surprised that God is beginning this purification by purifying the priesthood? And when will the rest of this happen?
I am becoming more and more convinced that we are on the edge of some huge change in the way our society is formed. The degradation of the dignity of the human person that is happening because of sexual immoralities, and a lack of respect for life itself – both in the womb, and in the elderly – is a clear indication, to me, that we are headed for destruction and reformation of the society that surrounds us.
Things are about to fall apart. When will that be? I don’t have an answer. But I look at all of the… Junk… That our society presents as morality and good, and then look at the way they treat the church, all I can conclude is that the problems are so far down the path of destruction that I do not think they will turn around before there is a destructive collapse of what we see of our society.
How then are we to live? I think we need to redouble our efforts at making our lives holy. There is no more time for us to haphazardly live our faith. It is time that we take it seriously. Because there is going to come a time when we will be challenged to do so, and it will become very difficult to do. A time is coming, and is already here, when it will be easier to simply walk away the church.
We see this far too often happening in our day today. Look around at your own families and friends. How many of them have chosen to walk away from any part of the church? Why is that? Part of it is because of the scandals. Part of it is because our society does not support faith, and acting in faith – meaning coming to church. Too many people find it easier to just stay home. And the reasons for that are almost as varied as the number of people who have chosen to walk away.
Every one of us has a reason for why we stay. Every one of them has a reason for why they left. But a time is coming when all these reasons will be put to the test. A time is coming when it will be more of a challenge to stay than to leave. But then, things will change.
Will we still be here when those things change? I don’t know. But what I do know, what I am convinced of, is that if we do not stand firm with what God has shown us is truth, we will probably be among those who leave.
Malachi talks about a purification. Like gold and silver that is tested in fire. We are heading for this kind of purifying test; indeed, I believe we are in the middle of it right now. Not at the beginning – but in the middle.
Here on this feast of the Presentation of the Lord we are reminded that Jesus did not come just to make us feel good, he came to call us to holiness above everything else. We fail at living that holiness, and that is why he offers us his mercy. But if we do not accept his mercy, and grow in holiness, we will instead face his justice. And it will be a burning fire.
Lord Jesus, there are many false teachers today who are trying to tell us that everything is okay. That your mercy is above all things. While that is true in one sense, we know that you are just and holy God. Help us to listen to your call to holiness that we may be able to stand against the powers of darkness that are so perverting our society.
Give us all the courage we need to stand in your holiness. Your holiness is a burning fire. Strip away from us everything that is not holy so that we can stand in your grace and holiness. Keep us faithful, keep us safe, keep us holy, keep us in your sacred and protective hands.
As we grow in holiness, help us to keep our eyes fixed on you, but also on those who are not growing in holiness so that we can speak to them about your call, about your mercy, about your infinite love and the burning fire that is your love. Help us to draw the world back to your holiness. Amen.