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Mar 22, 2012

Pomp

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Pomp entices us; it draws us into its glitz, pageantry, and spectacular displays. Who doesn’t like a parade? Who is not thrilled to receive an invitation to an Inaugural Ball for a recently elected President, or a Royal Wedding, or a personal audience with the Pope at the Vatican? Who is not, at least inwardly, puffed up when asked to provide personal wisdom to the US President or a Head of State somewhere in the world? In my own background the large, important military ceremonies and reviews of the troops decked out in their finest regalia on the broad, green expanse of military parade fields set in truly magnificent settings, majestically lends itself to the meaning of “pomp. All pomp is not necessarily bad. I found great value in these military parades. But then there is pomp which entices us into a state of mind where we do not want to go!
In New Testament Greek the word phonetically is “fantasia, like the title of the famous Disney movie of the last century, capturing the eyes, titillating the senses, moving the imagination. This word “fantasia in Greek is “pomp in the English Bible (cf. Acts 25:23). Fantasy has been a literary and movie genre for many secular writers like Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland), Frank Baum (The Wizard of Oz), or George Lucas (Star Wars); also Christian writers like Tolkien (Lord of the Rings) or C.S. Lewis (The Narnia Tales). Fantasy is and can be an evocative tool for communicating a vision and a message which can be redeeming in its effect in some cases or even seductively ruinous in others.
What is the effect of pomp on your own heart? It is a worthy question for every serious minded Christian in each instance where you are caught up in the pomp of the culture. Does it turn your heart to the things of God and your own redemption, or does it draw you closer to the world, and even to pomp devised by Satan to purposefully compel your heart in an opposite direction. St. Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444), one of the Church Fathers, tells us in that time a person to be baptized, on entering the outer hall of the baptistery, stretched forth their arms, and said, “I renounce you, Satan, and all your works, and all your pomp, and all your service. Then they declared their belief in the Holy Trinity and in one baptism of repentance. In the Bible the word pomp does not appear often, but always in the context of what will pass away, what will go down to the grave, and what stirs up in one’s heart a haughty spirit of selfish pride encouraging a lust of the eyes. One can see in it where the word “pompous is derived.
Yet how can you escape the descriptions in the Bible of God’s presence, the Lord’s return, and the vision of Revelation and the courts of heaven and not also refer to it as pomp, equating them to the grand and flashy pageantry on the world’s stage? These descriptions in God’s Word of unimaginable scenes past and future are not called pomp by the Holy Spirit, but rather Glory; speaking of what is in fact real and incorruptible; a splendor that will never fade, never disappoint, never cease to provide and sustain joy. Glory is what is real; pomp is in essence a fantasy, a substitute for real GLORY. Pomp’s eventual end is as described in today’s text; glory lasts for eternity. There is certainly pomp in our society that appears quite innocent, other that is clearly decadent. The Christian has to carefully analyze the influence of pomp upon his own soul. Pomp is a worldly antidote to boredom. It is why we amuse ourselves to death as a society. We are bored primarily because we are spiritually lethargic. Pomp which lulls one into increasing spiritual apathy must be dealt with or completely avoided. After all it is spiritual apathy that opens the door to the worst evils of this world: substance abuse, pornography, despair, insatiable boredom, inability to focus on the good while wandering in anything sin has to offer. Pomp, the kind that draws you away from strengthening your friendship with the Eternal, Living God and makes you more a lover of the world, must be discerned and put to death in the appetites of your soul.
Spiritually examine your heart the next time you participate in or are entertained by pomp.


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