Monday, October 15, 2007

Stationary Standards

“Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people…” (Isa.49:22)

C.S. Lewis wisely points out in his essay, “The Poison of Subjectivism” that we only make progress by moving toward a constant. If the standard is in a continual flux, any attempts to better oneself are futile. It’s like shooting at a moving target. As much as people like to pretend that right and wrong are subjective, each of us reaches a point where we say, “That’s not fair,” which obviously presumes an assumed standard of fairness.

The word “standard” is a military term referring to “a flag, sculptured figure, or conspicuous object, raised on a pole to indicate the rallying point of an army…often typifying the army or its leaders” (OED). This is true in most cases where it is found in the Bible, especially in Numbers where each tribe of Israel had its own standard (flag) that was raised over their camp. “And the children of Israel shall pitch their tents, every man by his own camp, every man by his own standard, throughout their hosts” (Num.1:52). These verses point out the fact that there are individual and family standards, as well as those laid down by God. Individual and family standards are personal and subject to change, while God’s are universal and immoveable or stationary.

There are two dangers here: seeking to raise my standard over your camp, or seeking to relegate God’s standards to a place of personal preference. To set my own standards as the only reference point for right or wrong (for me or you) is to shoot at a moving target, as I said. To say, “I can’t, or don’t want to do something, so it must be wrong”; or, “I can, and do want to do something else, so it must be right,” is really saying to God, “I make all the rules.” This may sound like intellectual freedom, but it’s really just being jerked around by every cultural idea that comes down the pike.

To say we have become more progressive as a people by removing all absolutes is to say that running in circles is better than heading in a definite direction. And to say that God’s standards, especially as given in the Ten Commandments, are obsolete and subject to personal interpretation is to leave ourselves to stumble through life, with nothing fixed to hold on to.
I have personal standards that have modified through the years, as I have grown in wisdom and knowledge of Word of God and life; but the standards of God that I learned as a child have never changed. And for that reason, I have reached this point in my life with few regrets. God’s standards are stationary, immoveable, written in stone. They should not be added to or subtracted from. As Moses said, “Ye shall not add unto the word that I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” (Deut.4:2)

No comments:

Post a Comment