Pilfer (intransitive verb) to steal; especially to steal stealthily in small amounts and often again and again.
For example, a few grains of wheat in a large sack pilfered by a rodent in the middle of the night will at first hardly be missed. Yet, over time, and little by little, the whole bag can be depleted and spoiled.
We slept, and in small amounts again and again, the world went about pilfering, and spoiling sacred things.
We slept, and the world pilfered the true meaning of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now, the cross is a symbol of religious intolerance, and what we have left are bunnies and colored eggs.
We slept, and the world pilfered the true meaning of Divine creation. Now the idea of creation is considered a dangerously regressive mythology, and what we have left are mocking cartoons of two naked people slightly covered by fig leaves.
We slept, and the world pilfered the true meaning of Christmas. Now, we cannot have a nativity scene on public property, and what we have left are earlier and longer holiday shopping hours.
We slept, and the world pilfered the dignity of virginity. Now, the idea of abstinence is considered a form of sexual repression, and what we have left is rampant promiscuity, and STD’s.
We slept, and the world pilfered the sanctity of human life. Now the idea of the sanctity of human life is considered an attack on the right of choice, and what we have left are the unknown graves of tens of millions of human beings denied the right to life.
We slept, and the world pilfered the power and purpose behind why God created us male and female (Genesis 1:27). Now the very idea of the gift of gender permanency has become an attack on the freedom of human expression, and even the memory of the rainbow as a beautiful reminder of the promise of God to never again destroy the world by water has been spoiled.
Did all sleep?
No, but enough slept that the pilfering went largely unchallenged, and continues unabated.
First came the pilfering of our reasons for what we believe. Then came the pilfering of the rights associated with those beliefs. The right of a Christian military chaplain to pray in the name of Jesus. Next, the right of a Christian guidance counselor to lead a troubled student to Christ. The right of the Christian biology teacher to even suggest that there is a scientifically supportable alternative to evolution. Also, the right of the Christian business owner to refuse service to people committing sodomy. The right of the pastor, and a congregation to publically endorse a godly candidate for public office.
And there is very likely more to come – much more. Such as the loss of the tax exempt status of the church, and related ministries, clergy housing allowance, tax deductable giving to Christian institutions, real estate and personal property tax exemptions, religious freedom provisions and protections, and selective restrictions of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.
Are all these the results of sleeping? Well, who did the pilfering – those sleeping or those wide awake? Or, to ask it another way; who is it that changes the truth of God into a lie, and promotes worshipping and serving the creature more than the Creator? (Romans 1:25 NASV)? Here is a hint – he is infinitely more destructive than a rodent, and he never sleeps – he prowls (I Peter 5:8).
“Arise o sleeper – awake…” (Ephesians 5:3-20 NASV)!
Dennis D. Frey, Th.D., President
Master’s International University of Divinity