Is Legalized Marijuana A Thing Of Grace?
According to the Washington Post, Gale Curcio recently ate a chocolate bar laced with 300 mg. of THC from cannabis oil. Legalized pot for recreational use is growing across many states. Somehow the candy bar from California made it to her coffee table. She unknowingly took a small bite, but went into an induced psychedelic state ending up in the local ER for tests. With a slow-but-eventual diagnosis, the doctors were glad Gale ate only a small portion. They were also thankful a small child didn’t get a hold of the dark chocolate (pun intended). Isn’t the news these days laughable? Good thing, because if I wasn’t laughing I’m certain I would be crying. Some want to run towards more stringent rules attached to marijuana, while others are basking in the freedom of uninhibited individualism regardless of consequences.
I saw an older couple head into deeper waters of the Gulf yesterday. It was like an opening scene from Jaws 3-D Part Two. The innocent, wrinkly couple were unsuspecting of the large, black blob headed their way. Folks on the shore were pointing and yelling. The older woman caught wind of the commotion in their obvious direction. She began to head to shore with a grimace. I assumed the slowest of the elderly bait would see the pearly gates first.
But the older gentleman remained in the water. He just watched the large, black mass come towards him, and then slowly move away from him without incident. It was a Manatee. Whew. Funny how my Spielberg training had blood spurting thirty feet in the air. That vivid imagery in my head was actually without good cause.
Some will run to the safe shore of rules, law, and regulation. Others will swim unfettered in their assumed freedom even when dangers may lurk in murky waters.
Both approaches think little of God. God is not really good, so laws, rules, and religion assure I can get what I really need from God… hopefully. God is not really good. In fact, His laws are hard and His ways are gruff — so I will do what i want in the freedom I choose. This perspective actually assumes I am better than God.
Jesus can be the only answer. Only through Jesus do we see value to the laws of God. The laws pointed to our need. Jesus meets that need. True freedom only comes through the one who restores our Imago Dei (image of God) identity and gives us lasting value outside of anything we could give ourselves.
Our need, then, is a more voracious love and exaltation of Jesus. As our culture erupts into personal freedoms of legalized marijuana, transgender confusion, standard-less morality, and worship of choices — Jesus can no longer remain on our car bumpers. Our affections of Jesus can no longer form things we believe in our heads, they must transform how we live and give and love.
Only the power of the gospel and the reality of Jesus living in us will drive us back to the authority of His Word. Our hope is in eternal life now, and a restored heaven and earth later. Our churches, as Tim Keller writes, must have gospel-centered pulpits while not being a pulpit restricted gospel. This world is not our home. Legalized marijuana and other laughable news should remind us of this. Maybe, just maybe, legalized marijuana and all the crazy we’re experiencing in our broken world is a thing of grace. Perhaps God is using it all to point us back to our only hope. Jesus.
We can run back to the black blob of legalism and religion, but that doesn’t seem to be working. We can swim in a self-created freedom, but such strategy deems self more highly than our actions can prove. Topical sermons void of Jesus can no longer help. Singing songs and doing church only to somehow make us better versions of our broken selves is becoming all the more ridiculous. This type religion actually plays right into post-modern thinking that we CAN save ourselves.
Jesus. The Gospel. Preaching and living that is focused strongly and only on Jesus is our only hope in the current malaise. It’s always been our only hope, we’ve just been lulled into a sleeper hold by what we thought was one nation under God. We no longer are, but this only makes Jesus all the more our hope and standard. The very things of societal tension we are wanting to fight, are, in the hands of Jesus, the very things of grace pulling us back to Jesus.
I have loved and feasted on Timothy Keller’s book, “Preaching.” Keller is one of the truly great gospel preachers of our time. His humble insights and practical strategies for preaching in our hostile culture are all about Jesus. Uncovering the heart and great thinking behind Keller’s preaching has challenged mine.
Jonathan Edwards said, “A nominal Christian is one who finds Christ useful (to get those things the heart found “excellent” or beautiful), while a true Christian is one who finds Christ beautiful for who he is in himself.” May the ugliness of our fallen world, and the affections of our hearts help us to see the depth, love, and beauty of Jesus. May gospel preaching every day, in every way, and in every pulpit be our greatest aid.
Tomorrow I start reading “Gospel Wakefulness” by Jared Wilson.