For about the first three decades of my life, a “lefty” was a guy who wrote and threw things with what was, from my perspective, the “wrong” hand. I grew up in the country where the words “right” and “left” had a simple function. They were either directional indicators or terms used to identify someone’s dominant hand. If I had been asked in those days whether I was a “right winger” or “left winger” I would have figured they were either talking about baseball, or trying to see if I had any weird preferences when it came to fried chicken.
Expanding the Perspective ~
Then somewhere in my thirties, I began to learn about politics and discovered that the terms “left-winger” and “right-winger” had definitions that had nothing to do with baseball or fried chicken. I also learned that a decision to align with one or the other had significant implications.
Right and left as it applies to politics traces its origin all the way back to the French Revolution of 1789. Originally, the “left” referred to those who were depicted as standing on the King’s left hand. They were the rebellious subjects who opposed the King and wanted to be free of the aristocratic monarchy altogether and rid the nation of its power to impose oppressive controls on any area of their lives. The “right,” as you would expect, defined those on the King’s right hand who supported the things hated by those on the left.
Almost every nation since then has produced people identifying themselves as belonging on one side of that equation or the other. The ideological and political designations “left” and “right” remain alive and well today, but the principles and objectives associated with today’s left and right have been reversed. The values and objectives originally assigned to the “left” have become the hallmarks of today’s “right,” and vice versa.
The “So What” Question ~
In case you’re wondering why any of this should matter, let me suggest that the implications of which of these groups dominates any culture are incredibly significant. The negative impact of leftist philosophy on the traditional Judeo-Christian values and on the overall welfare of this country is unmistakable. Leftist ideology and the practices that attend it have been wreaking havoc in America for decades. But rather than elaborating on their trends and tendencies, I’d like to shift our focus to a different group whose influence plagued God’s people long before the term “leftist” became politicized and presented a different perspective on what it means.
God identified them in the course of explaining why the King of Assyria had been allowed to invade Israel’s northern kingdom, defeat its army, slaughter many of its people, and lead most of the survivors captive to serve as slaves in Assyria. This was not a minor defeat for Israel. It was national annihilation. The “Why would God allow this?” question was pervasive, so He stepped up to answer it in 2 Kings 17:5-18.
A Searing Indictment ~
They had made a practice of blatantly disregarding God’s role in establishing their very existence as a nation, not to mention providing for their personal redemption. They displayed an arrogant disdain for His directives regarding their relationships and conduct, and callous indifference toward the love that motivated His ordinances. God’s concluding assessment was that their sinful rebellion against Him and its catastrophic results could be traced to the influence of the “leftists,” whose ideas and practices the nation willfully embraced.
In light of such an indictment, it’s important to point out what it was that made them “leftists.” In a nutshell, they became leftists because they “left.” God said it pretty clearly:
So they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, made for themselves a molded image and two calves, made a wooden image and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal (2 Kings 17:16 NKJV).
A Little Word Play ~
There you have it. Forgive me for playing with the term a bit, but when they “left” God, they became the most pathetic and dangerous kind of “leftist.” They abandoned God’s provision, protection, and promised prosperity in order to join the idolatrous pagans in their unrestrained pursuit of physical pleasure at any cost. They knew that God could never approve sin, so they “left” Him, and in doing so, left any access to truth, wisdom, and genuine love.
The spiritual decision that Israel’s “leftists” made distorted their entire worldview. Their fanatic commitment to silence God’s prophets and spread their moral corruption throughout the land ultimately doomed the entire nation. Today’s ideological leftists are following the same pattern, and if they could be transported back a few millennia, they would have would have been avid supporters of every twisted pagan practice going on in Israel in the name of tolerance and inclusion. If we ignore what God’s response was then, we invite a similar reaction now.
Another Vital Lesson ~
But there’s another lesson here that we must not miss. God says clearly that “they left”, but here’s the sobering truth associated with that. He let them leave. Why would He do that? Why would He let them mock Him and disregard His Word? Didn’t He know what would happen? Could He not have intervened and prevented such a foolish and destructive decision? There are two answers to those questions. “Yes” and “No.”
Notice that the text says that they “left” God. It does not say that they “escaped.” They didn’t “escape” from God because they weren’t “imprisoned” by God. He invites people into a love relationship, not divine incarceration. All relationships are identified by the boundaries that define them, but love doesn’t shackle its objects. It sets them free. The guiding principles and protective restraints given by God never deny men their freedom, quite the opposite. Their optional nature establishes freedom’s reality.
One Surrender Led to More ~
Those who “left” God’s protective guidance in Israel found no shackles restraining them, but there were plenty of shackles awaiting them later. They abandoned the One who loved them and surrendered to their depraved, hedonistic impulses. Soon that surrender led to others, until finally they bowed in abject defeat to a tyrant who would offer them no prerogative to leave his domain.
The “leftists” will always be enticing us to join them, and God applies no shackles to prevent that, but here’s a final observation to ponder . . . Those who left God had nothing left to hope for, no one left to defend them, and no power left to free them from the captivity and shackles sin always brings with it. The King will eventually return, and those who have left Him will find themselves . . . left out.
Click the link to watch for more details coming on my new book, “Right Side Up Thinking in an Upside Down World ~ Looking at the World through the Lens of Biblical Truth.”
Release date March 15!!
© 2018 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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Ron, enjoyed your post and looking forward to your book coming out! What do you think? Is there any place for “centrists” in this left or right world, or are we just “wishy-washy” people? What I mean by a centrist is those who listen to and weigh both sides and then make a judgment, trying to use the brain God gave us.
Thanks so much for your comment, Mary, and that’s a great question. I totally understand the urge not to get drawn into a position that some would call extremist. None of us wants to occupy the “lunatic fringe” on any side, but a couple of things are worth noting. Everything isn’t a “right vs. wrong” decision. Some things are just a difference of taste or preference and God gives tremendous latitude for personal preferences and differences of opinion that don’t necessarily threaten our relationship with Him. However, having said that, eventually, the benefits of a personal relationship with God, i.e., eternal life with Him in heaven, is reserved for those who have experienced personal redemption through faith in Jesus Christ. In the final analysis we’re going to be in or out, no middle ground–no central position between God and the devil. Beyond that, we have to determine whether something we’re encouraged to support might be something that God categorically condemned. He never consults a focus group or a popularity poll to determine whether something is right or wrong, and we’re challenged to stand firm where He does, even if the popular culture ostracizes us for it. After all, they did that to His Son, too, didn’t they? God bless you, Mary, and we’ll pray for each other that God will give us wisdom and courage as needed.
Ron, this is such a powerful post. I never knew the history of the term “leftist.” Very interesting. I couldn’t help but think about our Lord Jesus who sits at the “right” hand of God. And we as the Saints, are seated in the heavenly places with Jesus. It seems to me that very fact should be reflected down here on earth too—just sayin’. By the way, that is not a political statement. It’s a Biblical one.
I love your play on words that is lighthearted while still pulling a punch (a needed kick in the conscience). I am thrilled for you and Diane about the release of the book. I want a copy for myself and another to give away. Praying for many blessings on this project and all that you do in the name of the Lord.
Wow… what a country! I get smiles personally delivered all the way from California without even having to leave my office. Your characteristic grace leaves me with that familiar humbled and grateful feeling that you are masterful in producing. If we were on a 50’s era western movie set, this would be the scene where I look down at my boots and move my foot around in the dirt and say, “Aw, shucks, Ma’am.” Thanks for another bright spot in another day, Beckie, and for your prayers for the book and the other stuff we’re doing. I’ll be getting a couple of yours, as well, for girls I know who are going to be excited to get it. And although I’m not your target audience, I’m looking forward to reading it, too. We’ll do all we can to keep your East Coast fan club alive and well.
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You are so gifted by God Ron! Thanks so much for helping me take it all in. I can’t w hardly wait to read your book & looking forward to seeing y’all! Asking God to continue to bless you & Diane.
JoAnn, you are such an incredible encouragement. I don’t deserve the gracious comments, or the blessing you and your family has been to Diane and me. We are so excited about coming down again soon, and getting to see all of you face to face.