Gestures are funny things. Gestures have no intrinsic meaning, but they do have very important assigned meanings. Here in North America the simple thumbs-up gesture means “well done,” but in some other cultures it carries a meaning that is vulgar and offensive. Or just think of George W. Bush at his 2005 inauguration flashing the “hook ’em horns” gesture of the Texas Longhorns. Italians were shocked because they use that same gesture to indicate that a man’s wife is cheating on him. The gesture is the same, but it carries a very different meaning.
In many places in the world, elevating the middle finger is about as offensive as gestures get. It is a symbol of utter scorn, a symbol associated with the most offensive four-letter word. People flash it to display utter contempt toward another person. It is almost a dare: This is what I think of you; what are you going to do about it?
I think we understand humanity best when we understand that human beings are born with our middle finger extended toward God. We grow up with our middle finger extended toward God. We die with our middle finger extended toward God. At least we do unless God intervenes and lowers it by his grace.
Human beings hate God. We are born hating God, we die hating God, and we live our short lives hating God. This hatred is the motivation behind the way we interact with God and with what God has made.
We hate God so we hate his creation. The reason we treat the earth badly is not that we hate the earth or are even apathetic about it. It’s that we hate God. We display our contempt toward God by thinking too little of his creation, by polluting it recklessly, by stewarding it poorly. We treat it badly as a display of our scorn for God.
We hate God so we hate his creatures. We only kick the dog because at that moment we can’t kick God. We only treat animals badly because we don’t know how to treat God badly. We don’t actually have a beef with them, we have a beef with God and take it out on his creatures.
Most importantly, we hate God so we hate his image. God tells us that there is just one creature who is made in his image and in his likeness—human beings. The closest we can get to harming or destroying God is harming or destroying human beings. This explains so many of the headlines we read every day. What is abortion but humanity elevating our middle finger toward God by gleefully destroying the creatures that God loves most? What is euthanasia but people flipping God the bird while ending a life created by God? What are gay marriage and no-fault divorce and the pornography plague but people looking God in the eye, elevating that middle finger, and daring him to do something about it? We know we cannot harm God, but we do know we can harm people.
Humanity is in a state of open warfare with God. We cannot get at God (except for that one time we could, and we crucified him). But we can, and will, get at anything that comes from God and anything that reflects God.
Thank God for his grace. Thank God for his grace which has brought peace between God and those who have put their faith in Christ. Thank God for his grace which has removed our scorn and contempt and allowed us, those who are his, to now live for the good of all he has made, and the glory of all that he is.
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