This last Sunday I preached on why some unbelievers, in spite of being intelligent, hearing, and even understanding, don't turn to God and cry out for salvation, while others in the same state do.
Some theological persuasions make it more difficult and raise new questions (about the goodness of God) by their handling of such a simplicity. I forgive them as they are trapped by an anthropology that forces them into complexity.
I said it was a simple question.
It has a simple answer.
Why don't they repent?
They don't want to.
My anthropology has been mentioned on this blog before. The central task of man is to resolve the nature of feeling. He must govern it into some satisfactory semblance of peace. He chases after his lusts, moderates them and minimizes his pains. He develops his understanding and justifies his action. He knows that he has been given the first draft in the task of governance. He soon finds that he must allow others to share in the governance for he, alone, could not arrange life well enough. He collects into cities and solves thereby some of his needs. They together develop economics and armies and laws. We all know what we are about in this regard. Everything we do is answering the question of who is "lord" over "what".
Enter the God, the God who made Heaven and Earth.
He says, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
He is asking for everyman to make a crucial grant of lordship and man guards that privilege very closely. In addressing the unbelief of the Jews in Romans 6, St. Paul quotes Isaiah 65.
I spread out my hands all the day
to a rebellious people,
who walk in a way that is not good,
following their own devices;
3 a people who provoke me
to my face continually,
sacrificing in gardens
and burning incense upon bricks;
4 who sit in tombs,
and spend the night in secret places;
who eat swine's flesh,
and broth of abominable things is in their vessels;
5 who say, "Keep to yourself,
do not come near me, for I am set apart from you."
Note the last line of verse 2.
It is their own devices they follow. They want to arrange their lives their way for what they perceive will be an adequate peace.
And verse 5 is their conclusion.
Their every hope is to have a life following the oft remarked key of conservative politics.
"The government that governs least governs best."
Man's own passion, their own feeling, their own way is the single explanation for the wide variety of sin in this world.
As Christ quotes Isaiah 6 in Matthew 13:15
"For this people's heart has grown dull,
and their ears are heavy of hearing,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should perceive with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their heart,
and turn for me to heal them.'"
They choose to be blind. They do not honor God as God or give Him thanks.
They would like to be healed (it is our primary need) but they don't want God to do it.
They would be the "master of their own fate, the captain of their own soul" no longer if they bowed the knee. They are no different from the wingnut that refuses to get a social security card, lives in a single wide in Montana and doesn't pay his taxes. He thinks he is man enough to command that difficult task called the human life.
He isn't that smart and neither are we.
While we may be more sensible in our willingness to absorb a loss of individual governance because more power than we have is necessary to fight a war, print legal tender, and maintain sewer lines. We allowed for it and became citizens of it because we knew we needed something we could not individually access and that this fraternity or overlord provided.
God has asked for something more directly about and within us than a city's infrastructure can offer. He has asked to rule our passions directly. This is the seat and motivation of all our pursuits. It is what we feel, both painful and pleasurable. He will have nothing less from us than authority over the arrangement of our feeling. Others, like cult leaders or megalomaniacs and even Satan of Christ, have asked for this control but only a God can provide a moral governance validly. It is a big submission and it must be made and must be made correctly. Heaven knows we need it. He who refuses to submit to God thinks he can make a "good" that is good enough.
The Heavens and the Earth are a monarchy.
Jesus Christ is King and Lord.
The peasants are, well, peasants.
They look on the claim of Christ and sound like the mud farmer in Monty Python.
Man: Come and see the violence inherent in the system! HELP, HELP, I'M BEING REPRESSED!
Arthur: Bloody PEASANT!
Man: Oh, what a giveaway! Did'j'hear that, did'j'hear that, eh? That's what I'm all about! Did you see 'im repressing me? You saw it, didn't you?!