We live in a culture where few people take responsibility for their actions. Athletes blame bad meat for positive drug tests. Politicians blame each other for lack of progress. Spouses blame each other for their failed marriage. People blame God for the consequences of their own bad decisions. My son blames his sister for his bad attitude (“It’s all her fault, she laughed and I didn’t like that!”) Our culture is an anomaly of resp0nsibility deprivation. Or is it?
Recently I was reading some Exodus, because that’s what all the cool people do, and I came across the story of the golden calf. If you’re not familiar with it here are the Cliff Notes of the Cliff Notes. God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. They went out in the wilderness and Moses, their leader went up a mountain to talk to God. He was gone a while (40 days and 40 nights because that’s how long people do things in the Bible) and the people got anxious. So of course they built a golden calf, called it their God, and worshiped it. Aaron oversaw this whole fiasco, and when Moses came down from the mountain he was ticked and yelled at everyone. Then he confronted Aaron.
“What did these people do to you that you led them into such great sin?” Moses asked.
Aaron’s reply sounds like an athlete, or politician, or my 6 year old.
“You know how prone these people are to evil. They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”
Don’t you hate it when you throw things in a fire and idols pop out? I think that’s why they’re so stingy about fire pits in Colorado–the authorities are anti-idol.
The truth is that people have been shirking responsibility since the world was made (check out Adam and Eve if you don’t believe me). But shirking responsibility is decidedly unChristian. It twists or denies the truth, makes repentance for wrong impossible, and undercuts the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation. One of the great counter-cultural acts for a Christian is taking responsibility for one’s actions. That will stand out in a world of responsibility deprivation.