• Ross Moughtin

The Bible is filled with people like us, who thought they could get away with it.

For 11 minutes last night the world was a quieter place. Not as colourful maybe – but quieter. The Twitter feed for President Trump was down. I think I should disclose at this point that I too follow the President along with 41.7 million other users. I enjoy having real-time access to POTUS, being alerted to policy developments even as they are made. But all this came to an abrupt stop last night I was out of the loop. As the Times reported in this morning’s edition “Anyone looking for President Trump’s account was told: ‘Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!’”. But why? If this could happen to President Trump, it could happen to any of us. Just eliminated from cyberspace, just like that. However, Twitter has now published a statement which by my reckoning exceeds its customary 140 character limit. “Through our investigation we have learned that this was done by a Twitter customer support employee who did this on the employee’s last day. We are conducting a full internal review.” I must say, I like that. One operator on their last day decides to do something that they have longed to do maybe for months: pull the plug on the President. Whether this small act of rebellion was aimed at the President himself or at their employer for making them work on Saturdays, we are still to discover. As they put on their coat and headed out for Market Street for the last time, they thought “They can’t touch me now!” Employees on their last day must be a nightmare for employers. You could insist that they have their last day the day before they leave – but on reflection, that wouldn’t really solve the problem. At this point, some 11 paragraphs into this blog, I am wondering why on earth I have chosen this particular subject. For the life of me I cannot think of anyone in the Bible deliberately doing something drastic on their last day at work. Short pause to reflect. No I can’t, but one useful avenue to explore is the attempt to avoid consequences. Something we do all the time when we choose to sin. Whatever we do has consequences, whether we like it or not. Invariably, we don’t. “One of Satan's most deceptive and powerful ways of defeating us is to get us to believe a lie,” observes pastor Charles Stanley. “And the biggest lie is that there are no consequences to our own doing. Satan will give you whatever you ask for if it will lead you where he ultimately wants you.” For the truth is that we do not get away with it, as I imagine this anonymous Twitter ex-employee will soon find out. In fact, he or she is about to enjoy their 15 minutes of fame. As Jesus himself warns “Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known.’ (Luke 12:3) For the Bible is filled with people who thought that they could get away with it. Beginning with Adam and Eve. “When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it—she’d know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6). And everything followed from this act of disobedience. How often do we think “They’ll never find out/No one will even notice.” Sadly the repercussions can reverberate over the generations. Sin pays its wages. But such is God’s love and commitment, he has sought to reverse the consequences of our rebellion. Above all, at the cross of Jesus. “But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.” (Isaiah 53: 5) For the Gospel is not just that Jesus takes to himself our consequences. The amazing truth is that as we surrender to him, we may enjoy the consequences of his obedience, the outcome of his salvation. “Everyone has to die once, then face the consequences. Christ’s death was also a one-time event, but it was a sacrifice that took care of sins forever. And so, when he next appears, the outcome for those eager to greet him is, precisely, salvation.” (Hebrews 9:27) But that doesn’t mean that, in the words of the apostle Paul, ‘Let us do evil so that good may come.” (Romans 3:8). That is, if God keeps clearing us our mess, why bother doing the right thing? For that is to turn the Gospel on its head. For once we have been grabbed by the love of God, we will want to live lives which honour God. We will naturally seek his strength to overcome the sin-urge in all of us. And now, as we serve Christ in this life, the consequences of our actions are eternal, even in “giving just a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple.” For as Jesus promises: “Truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.” (Matthew 10:42)

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