Spirituality for Today – February 2013 – Volume 17, Issue 7

It's Limbo Time

By Rev. Raymond Petrucci

Decades ago, Chubby Checker sang The Limbo Rock with that hook lyric, "How low can you go?" Regrettably, those who follow the secularist credo declare these words not as a critical inquiry but as a rallying cry. Some time ago on one of our ubiquitous radio talk shows, the interviewee was commenting on the issue of legalizing prostitution by positing that a woman owns her body and thus she freely should be able to rent it out if she wished. Imagine occasionally encountering a woman on the street wearing a For Rent sign. I wonder if he believes that simply because we "own our bodies" that also we can rob, murder, rape, and pillage as well. Right and wrong dictated by personal whim is a most terrifying credo, yet it is becoming more and more the custom of our age. Eventually – and ironically – laws will have to become stricter to maintain a workable sense of society. Complete license results in anarchy and anarchy gives birth to the dictatorship of the mighty. Experience has shown that human beings who maintain that they are answerable to nothing higher than their own desires have produced nothing short of mayhem and slaughter. The savagely destructive acts of these self-worshipping despots have littered the course of human history.

A photo of a woman holding a for rent sign

There is another way. Once, God entered human nature as an itinerant preacher in a hot and dusty land among a people longing for a savior. Jesus Christ exhausted himself in attempting to proclaim the need of repentance and the call to believe that in belief in him salvation rests. On one occasion, Jesus and his disciples entered the Temple area. In seeing the animals being sold for sacrifice and the money changers serving visitors from near and far, he exploded in righteous indignation, driving them all out and, by doing so, introducing a new relationship with God and pointing toward a new ritual of worship. He called himself a temple. A temple, once destroyed, that would be raised in three days - days filled with wonder and power.

If we are to believe devotedly in who Jesus is and in what he taught, we are presented with the reality that we are a temple too and within us dwells the Holy Spirit. Being a temple of the Holy Spirit contains a wondrous and challenging dichotomy:

Firstly, we, in ourselves, are not the center of our universe. Our life is a loving gift of the Creator and that Creator has high hopes regarding the use of that gift. Free Will affords us the power either to accept or to reject these expectations and concomitantly to harvest the fruits of that choice. The successful use of all of our talents, the effect accomplished in our relationships with others, and the final measure of the value of our lives are chiseled upon our hearts and are open to inspection by the Judge of all hearts. We are called to fulfill God's will and not the other way around.

Secondly, the revelation that we are entrusted with the possession of the Holy Spirit is an honor beyond measure. Our frail, variable beings have been awarded a treasure that invalidates any other treasure that the earth contains. We are the children of God and, thus, claim a dignity and worth immeasurable. We are called to produce much good fruit during our lifetime, but we are intimately tied to the Harvest Master. We depend on no one and on nothing on earth to determine the value of our being. We have been made worthy of entering the Kingdom of God by the King himself. Yes, we must believe in God's love and willingly reflect the presence of that love in the total product of our lives. Although temptation and sin might seem to overwhelm us, the mercy and love of God is a steady companion of the repentant. Lent challenges us to look at and to defeat our exposed sinfulness, and assures and comforts us through the unchangeable desire of God to rescue us and bring us into his eternal joy. In what must be the hook of an angelic lyric, "How high can you rise?"