By Kevin Shrum
Pastor, Inglewood Baptist Church, Nashville
Focal Passage: Ezekiel 16:20-21; 23:36-39; Psalm 139:13-16
Dictionary.com defines the term “value” as: something that is of relative worth, merit, or importance. We apply the term “value” to many things. We value our money, time, families, and friendships. We value life.
But what happens when a person (or an entire culture) stops valuing the right things and starts valuing the wrong things? This is exactly what has happened in Western civilization (Europe and North America). Rather than valuing life, we have become a “culture of death” that no longer values the very things that give life. But we are not the first to embrace such a deadly posture against God and the life He gives.
Wrongdoing is justified (Ezekiel 16:20-21). The “devaluing” of life begins by devaluing God Himself. God becomes “no big deal.” This is what happened in the life of God’s people. Dating back to King Solomon’s compromise with worldly gods (I Kings 11), Israel committed the sin of idolatry. In turn, idol worship caused God’s people to do insane things like sacrificing their own children to Molech.
And, as if “prostituting” themselves to foreign deities was not enough, they ended up slaughtering their own children (v. 21). God’s people got in bed with the world and gave birth to death and destruction. All of this was justified by wanting to be like or friendly with the world, a justification God would severely judge.
Callousness becomes the norm (Ezekiel 23:36-39). Once a “culture of death” and idolatry becomes the norm, any sin is possible for a rebellious people. The two sister harlots, Oholah representing Samaria and Oholibah symbolizing Jerusalem, were to be condemned by Ezekiel for their spiritual harlotry. Ezekiel was to “pass judgment” on God’s people as His mouthpiece (v. 36).
And their sins were numerous. They “committed adultery,” sacrificed their children to foreign gods, and “defiled my sanctuary on that same day and profaned my Sabbaths” (v. 38). They had become “cold-hearted sinners.” And the same can be true of us. Detached from God and His truth, the creativity in the number of ways we can sin increases exponentially (Romans 1:28-32). Sin makes us callous and cold-hearted.
God’s truth revealed (Psalm 139:13-16). But the “culture of death” can and must be confronted by a “culture of life.” God’s Word clearly teaches that Christians are to be life-affirming people — in the physical sense and in the spiritual sense.
We affirm life in the physical sense in that every person must be counted precious from conception to the grave, and at every stage in between. Psalm 139:13 notes God created our “inward parts,” “knit” us “together in my (our) mother’s womb.” We are “remarkably and wondrously made” (v. 14). God numbered our days — “all my days were written in your book and planned before a single one of them began” (v. 16).
We affirm life in the spiritual sense in that we gladly affirm that in Jesus Christ He came to give sinners abundant life (John 10:10). We affirm that in Jesus Christ was “life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). We preach the gospel of Christ, who is the life-affirming truth of God. The “culture of death” was confronted by the “culture of life” in Jesus Christ. And life wins because Jesus has won! B&R