Saturday, December 22, 2012

George Carlin, sin, and Godly sorrow

This is a weird coincidence. I queued up the original episode of Saturday Night Live, which debuted in October 1975. As I began to watch, I listened to host George Carlin's opening monologue. I was thinking I first watched it 38 years ago, and my how the time flies by. I was wondering how many of the cast are dead by now. Just then, Carlin asked,

“Do you ever look at the crowds in old movies and wonder if they’re dead yet?”

Either I should be spooked by the coincidence, or worried that I think like George Carlin. Anyway, here are the ones who are dead:

Dan Aykroyd
Chevy Chase
John Belushi
Jane Curtin
Garrett Morris
Laraine Newman
Gilda Radner

First head writer: Michael O'Donoghue
First musical performer: Billy Preston
First host: George Carlin

Did Carlin ever wonder if someone would wonder that about him?

During the program, Carlin joked about the vagaries of the English language, which was funny. He mocked corporate and government America, which was intellectually provoking. Then of course Carlin landed on Jesus as his main topic of satiric rebuke. He settled in to a riff of disdain for the Savior, so I turned it off.

My mind then went further on the "are they dead now" thought. George Carlin spent a lifetime mocking the only One who could save Him from hell, and hell is surely where Carlin is right now. Carlin is living the ultimate irony. I mourned.

Far from chortling over someone's eternal destiny, I do cry, lament, become melancholy. The deeper I go into Christ, the deeper the grief over the world and over people who reject eternal life. When I look a them I see walking skeletons. They are dead in their trespasses.

It's like when you pass an accident by the side of the road. All these lives, millions upon millions of lives are wrecks, and yet I can't look away. For example, I watched a biopic of Sonny & Cher last night. Sonny Bono was killed in a ski accident in 1998 at the Heavenly Ski Resort. He was an avowed Roman Catholic who dabbled in Scientology. Chances are, though he died in a place called heavenly, he is not there now. While watching the biography movie, that was all I could think about. Except when my thoughts went to Cher, who is living out Jonathan Edwards' famous sermon "Sinners in the hands of an Angry God," and that her foot shall slide in due time. Then I thought of their child, sweet Chastity Bono, who had a sex change operation and is now a man called Chaz. Yet another grief to lament another lost soul.

The problem is, the whole world is an accident at the side of the road. There is no way to look away. Nowhere to avert one's eyes so as not to see the carnage. It's all a wreck.

Though this seems like a downer, and it is really, there is an upside. First, because I don't think I'm the only one to feel this way. After Newtown School Massacre, I think many Christians were brokenhearted for the world. The act brought us to new levels of grief. One cannot help but think about the effects of the fallen world on unsaved individuals polluted by almost total corruption.

Additionally, as the chasm between sinner and saved grows wider prior to the rapture, and the world comes hurtling toward its prophesied end, many on the side of Jesus feel the weight of loss. John MacArthur spoke of it at a Q & A recently. He said the older he gets, the sadder he gets. This is because the deeper in Christ you go the more vivid sin becomes to us. In his sermon, Satan's Plan for the Church, he said more,

"The older I get and I'm sure it's true with you if you think about it, the older I get, the more I realize that the world has fallen. The older I get, I guess the more I realize that basically things are not going to get any better. They continue to get worse. Everything in the world has been touched or tainted, has been marred or scarred by the pervasive power and the presence of sin. And that our entire world and our entire universe and our very culture itself is winding down becomes imminently obvious to anyone who looks. No matter how good, no matter how successful, no matter how prosperous, no matter how happy people might be in any given moment, they're always on the brink of disaster, always on the brink of destitution, always on the brink of evil, sorrow, failure and such is the nature of life in a fallen world."

Yes, mourning over sin is a downer, but the upside is that Jesus is gracious. He has anticipated each and every feeling and circumstance humans have or ever will have. He said, in Matthew 5:4,

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

I believe this means those who mourn over sin are blessed.

"For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death." (2 Corinthians 7:10).

I believe this means the true source of every grief is sin, and so the only comfort in Godly grief is Jesus.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy." (John 16:20).

In that verse, Jesus was foretelling His death and resurrection on the cross to His disciples, but I believe we can extrapolate that to a generalized feeling of hope of the future joy He will bring when He finally disposes of all sin and we lay eyes on His resurrected Self.

If you have been mourning over sin, for whatever reason and in whatever form, take heart. Psalm 56:8 says:

"You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?"

The ancient Greeks and Romans used to actually collect tears of grief and place them into small bottles baked of clay or fashioned out of onyx or agate, and either bury them with the loved one or keep them as a memorial of friendship or love over loss. These bottles were called lacrymatories. When David asks God 'are they not in your book?' he knows God has taken an exact account of all the tears shed in relation to His business.

Grief over sin, our own and the world's, is a weighty thing, but Jesus has the scales in His hand and He knows exactly to the ounce how much we can carry.

Ultimately, each tear shed over sin is a connection to the grace of Jesus. Take comfort in that, my dear brethren. "For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison," (2 Corinthians 4:17)

8 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. I know. That's why there is not a line thru his name.

      Dead: John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Michael O'Donoghue, Billy Preston, George Carlin

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    2. It is also why he's Chevy Chase, and you're not...

      :)

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  2. I too, when I view an old film, I wonder how many are now dead. It saddens me because I know many lived a Godless life. I can only hope that some came to faith in Christ Jesus before their passing. Many of these movie stars are people who lived their life for fame and fortune, but missed what was truly important and eternal.

    Have a Merry Christmas and God bless,
    Ken

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  3. Those of us who respond to the Holy Spirit convicting us of sin ARE the ones blessed to mourn. It is a blessing indeed to mourn and grieve over sin.
    Those who don't have His Spirit cannot truly grieve and mourn because the flesh is spiritually dead and incapable of this. There is no Truth in the flesh/world. There is no Good in the flesh/world.

    Thank you so much for your thought provoking, comforting posts Elizabeth!

    In Him,
    Shannon

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  4. Yes, I have experienced much worldly grief, but it is Godly grief that leads to repentence. What a gracious God to allow me to feel Godly sorrow and know that it is against HIM that I have sinned. When He drew me to Him, He opened my eyes about the filth of my sin and showed me that Jesus is the Messiah; He gave His life for me. What an incredible blessing that I am no longer one of the 'wrecks' along lifes highways. May He draw more to Him today!

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  5. I'm the same way as you. I watch Turner -you know the old movies and from time to time I look up a person's memoir to see if they are alive or not. Then I'm saddened most are dead and that their eternal destiny is sealed apart from Christ.

    I've mourned and prayed for people like "Chaz". I just pray God has mercy on her and saves her before it's too late


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  6. I don't know if this will make much sense, so if it doesn't please tell me as I'd be happy to try to explain it...I personally feel joyful that God has allowed me to grieve over sin. I was thinking that as a fruit of the spirit is joy, that I should expect to be filled to the brim with joy all the time...sorta. I see that even though my flesh appears sad and down alot of the time, my spirit actually is both mournful and joyful.

    I was thinking that in hating sin itself (not the people of course) I was forsaking the joy that is by faith and spirit. But what I'm seeing is that in this grief I am genuinely wanting to depart from my own obvious sins, and my hope to be with my Lord Jesus Christ keeps getting stronger! I feel freedom to serve other people as a humble (21 year old) man. And I'm homesick to be with Him, but I feel freedom to accept my current state so that I might serve others, and in serving them I might share His Gospel!

    -Most of my grief/hardship thus-far is not physical, but mentally and emotionally, even though I seem to be experiencing physiological manifestations of my heart and mind...my stomach hurts almost all the time, my joints and muscles ache, headaches quite often. However, it isn't as horrible as it sounds because my soul is joyful towards the Lord.

    I have seen a new creation, as in my old self is melting away so-to-speak, but not everything about me has changed...I still love animals!

    Love to you Elizabeth! from Drew

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