Embracing the Wrong Picture

David said in Psalm 27, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” He asked the Lord not to hide His face from him, to help him and never forsake him. Yet that heartfelt cry for intimacy with the Lord seems forgotten by so many who teach it but do not attempt to live it. A good example would be seen in the title character of the “Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde.

Dorian Gray sees a portrait that entices him. It speaks to youth and vitality. He declares that he would give his soul if the portrait were to grow old while he would remain young and handsome. Compounding this situation is his friend Henry who encourages Dorian to follow a wrong path. Dorian falls for an actress, Sibyl, who finds she can no longer pretend to be in love on stage. She wants what is real. Dorian rejects her for this and returning home he sees the portrait now has a cruel expression on its face. He decides to ask forgiveness from Sibyl but finds she has committed suicide because of the rejection and false life. Dorian’s friend Henry tells him there is no reason to feel guilty or bad. As Henry’s influence over Dorian grows, the portrait displays the corruption and evil of Dorian’s life by visibly aging yet Dorian remains unblemished. Dorian is going into a hole of evil and capricious living from which he cannot return. When his old friend, Basil, sees how the painting reflects Dorian’s heart, he tells him he must repent and pray for forgiveness. Dorian murders him. Eventually after increasing depravity, Dorian seeks to redeem himself. He goes to look upon the portrait and see if that changes of heart is reflected in the portrait. He only sees a sneer of cunning. Dorian decides to destroy the painting and stabs it. But it backfires. His servants find an old, gruesome man on the floor with a knife in his chest. On the wall is the portrait Dorian lusted after. The same beauty depicted as when he first saw it.

Some may see this as an example of one who’ll do anything to stay youthful and vigorous. This analogy was given to me for those who will do anything to preserve or get power and wield it selfishly. They have no problem using the image of God as a banner for that which harms others. They are oblivious to the damage they cause in their quest to make the world, or their sphere of influence, into a picture of something so totally bereft of His goodness that they sink deeper into a hole of depravity and lies. This was evidenced in chapter 11 of Genesis when Nimrod, in all of his physical splendor and power, attempted to build the tower of Babel, thusly satisfying his and the people’s lust for greatness. They wanted to make a name for themselves and make a tower whose top is in the heavens. So, God came down and confused their language. They were unable to communicate with each other and the tower was abandoned. But today differing languages don’t seem to stop people from having similar methods in establishing powerbases that give them control while destroying the earth and dominating people they can control. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But it’s end is the way of death.”

We cannot say that we are unaware of the lust for power and control that is only increasing. The only way this continues is by taking away rights of others in order to gain more control. In order to maintain this path, people who seek to control must become more deceptive and manipulative. Lying becomes an art form to be daily perfected. This lust for power and control by any means is rooted in the same traits of weakness, insecurity, and conceit seen in Dorian Gray. Who you hurt matters not at all. This lust for power and getting your own way, no matter the consequences, eventually atrophies your heart and disfigures your soul. Your reward is self- gratification. Forget the fatherless, the widow, the poor, the outcast, the foreigner, the sick, and all those Christ said to minister to. Your quest makes no room for them. This covetousness, wickedness, deceit, pride, lawlessness and foolishness is the order of the day. Throw some bible white out on Mark 7:21-23 and worry not that these things defile a man. But realize that people who follow this path are backbiters and haters of God. They are violent, proud, inventors of evil things, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful, that such will come into the righteousness judgement of God. But not only them, but those who approve of them! This should cause everyone to at least stop and examine their heart. (Romans 1:32)

Ministers too often teach a gospel to appease or to increase church size and coffers. Prophets speak from a voice that is so contrary to Christ and gauge their words by amounts of followers on social media and by offerings. Examine yourself to see if you are truly walking in the faith. Test yourself. Oswald Chambers said that “Intellectual darkness comes through ignorance; spiritual darkness comes because of something we do not intend to obey.” So, when you see an interpretation of His word used to meet someone’s need, reject it outright. Read for yourself. Get on your knees before Him and ask for His way. When you see lies being accepted as the norm and society turning a blind eye to that which the Lord condemns, walk from it. When you see people being marginalized by denial of brutal past treatment of blacks in teaching in schools, or of indigenous peoples, or of the immigrant, or the poor, or of the constant yet increasing rise of anti-semitism, stand up to it. When you see those who will lie repeatedly and steal consistently for power, turn from them. Those who perpetrate these evils are wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. If you continue to follow them or basically remain unmoved and give them a wink and a nod, then you are complicit and heap shame and guilt upon yourself. Do not wait for some great move of God to sweep you into an emotional state where you ask for forgiveness. Read 1 John 1:9. Confess and you’ll be forgiven. The ante has risen. This is not a game where you wait for one side to win. There is only His way. Take up your cross this day. Do not be found with those lying wretched and disfigured beneath a fake portrait of what you follow as Dorian Gray did. Be that new creation spoken of by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” I pray you stand. Blessings.

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