Thursday, November 9, 2023

Taking a Beating Like a Klingon

Suggested Reading: Isaiah 1:2-9

There is an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine where Worf (the Klingon transfer from the Next Generation) is captured by the enemy and is forced into a gladiator style prison tournament. Over the course of the episode Worf fights and wins match after match until he is tired and worn out and then has to fight the enemy's best soldier. Having already been the subject of so much abuse, Worf can barely manage to get back on his feet time after time, but somehow he continues to pull himself up. Because Worf feels he is in the right, he refuses to give up, no matter how many beatings he has to take, no matter how bloodied and bruised he gets.

When Worf continues to stand up time and time again even though it means he will take more abuse, it is considered an honorable thing because Worf refuses to let the enemy win. But what if a person endured such abuse simply because they refused to admit that they were wrong? That kind of stubbornness isn't quite so admirable. In Isaiah chapter 1, God is discussing the discipline that had been poured out on his people because they stubbornly refuse to give up their sinful ways. God asks, “Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness – only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil" (Isaiah 1:5-6, HCSB).

Far too often, we endure suffering, which is either a direct consequence of our own sinful behavior or is the discipline of a God who is desperately trying to turn us around before we destroy ourselves, and we stubbornly refuse to give in, continuing to engage in our sinful, harmful activity. Too often we decide that regardless of the consequences we are going to continue doing what we want to do, no matter how wrong it is or how much we suffer as a result. But while suffering for a just cause can be admirable, suffering because we just don't want to change is destructive and stupid.

What about you? What are you stubbornly refusing to give up, even though you are facing increasingly difficult consequences for it? What are you considering doing, even though you know the consequences could be dire? What are you trying to convince yourself that you can get away with, knowing you probably won't? Imagine yourself facing the full set of consequences for that decision and choose right now to do the right thing.

Suffering for a just cause is admirable. Suffering because we refuse to give up our sin is just sad.

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