Monday, April 18, 2011

Conflicting Words

The world is full of messages for those who are watching and listening. Some are blaring into our ears in such a way it is impossible to ignore them. Others are so subtle we hardly realize we have allowed the message to slip past the barriers declaring right and wrong. Some are on bumpers of vehicles and some are on the portable message signs which stand in front of so many businesses. On a recent trip into Savannah, there was this message which said, "A clear conscience is a sign of a bad memory." It was an invitation to make light of a conscience which might actually steer someone away from entering the lounge and game room under the sign.
Of course, the scripture does not equate a clear conscience with a bad memory. Instead, it equates it with living in a right relationship with God. When the Apostle Paul stood before the council condemning him, he declared, "Brothers, up to this day I have lived my life with a clear conscience before God." (Acts 23:1) And later, Peter would write to the church and say, "Keep your conscience clear..." (I Peter 3:16). For Paul and Peter a clear conscience was about living in a right way before God. It was important for them to be able to look back with no memory of bad choices, only right living.
Surely, that thing we call "conscience" seeks to steer us toward the same kind of life choices made by the Apostles. A clear conscience is not a thing which is actually impossible to possess as the message board would suggest. The Word of God declares a different thing. It is possible to live with a clear conscience, knowing that we are living in a right relationship with God and our brothers and sisters. The Hebrews called it righteous living and so we are we all called and empowered to live.

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