Saturday, May 23, 2020
Lost but Now Found Again! and Again! … and Again!
This photo somehow ended up in a folder it had no business being in.
Why? Don’t know.
Like us, when we are lost, though God claims us, we need to be put back online where we belong.
Being on track doesn’t make us God’s children, being God’s children gets us back on track, sometimes.
Moses said, “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn from the way that I am commanding you today, to follow other gods that you have not known.”
Since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for whatever wrong has been done, and there is no partiality.
Words of Grace For Today
Blessing for obedience. Curse for disobedience. Payback for doing wrong. Serving in order to gain an inheritance.
All of this is religious language of coercion; a well organized chorus of controlling others.
It frames life as nothing more than doing what is right and being rewarded; or doing what is wrong and being punished. This is the thought of a two year old, dressed up to look like an adult’s thinking. It is the most common thought pattern applied in most every situation and from nearly all perspectives. It is still childish and falls short of the reality of life as God created us to live it. It is the perversion of the Devil that takes something profoundly good and turns it just a few degrees and lets it loose on us, until down the road we are light years away from the goal God has set for our life on earth: to give God glory in all we do, bringing abundant life to the poor, disadvantaged, and outcasts; and bringing a life of God’s meaning and worthy purpose to the wealthy, privileged and powerful.
Before we get too far along uncovering this devilish perversion of life’s meaning, let us affirm that there is a blessing and a curse in obedience or disobedience. Obeying God does bring blessings to others (rarely to ourselves), and disobeying brings curses to others ( most often to ourselves as well.)
The reality of God’s creation is that God rewards us with an inheritance as God’s own adopted children, and therefore we serve Christ. The direction of causation between our behaviour and God’s rewards correctly stated is simple. Because God acts, rewarding us with blessings, therefore we serve and obey.
The devilish perversion is to think and live as if we act either obeying and serving or disobeying then on the basis of our thoughts and actions God either rewards us with blessings or punishes us with curses.
It is a childish approach to life to think and live as if one’s actions determined God’s blessings and curses. On first blush we might well wish that our thoughts and actions had such influence on God’s response to us. An honest appraisal of human history and our own experiences lays bare the reality that we can never do enough things well enough to please God, or event o accomplish something profoundly good enough to actually FIX a problem the world faces. Every good thing we do is tainted by incompleteness and unintended disastrous consequences … and sinful motivations and results.
It does not matter how hard or diligently we try, or how much self -disciplined we apply to our attempts, one just has to read the honest words written by good thinkers to realize … every human attempt to FIX a problem is a failure. Self-discipline and self improvement is only a mad dash from one hot issue slightly tamed to the next hot issue, only to have a host of previously tames issues raise their hot little heads as major impediments to our living well.
The project of being good enough in life is a futile chasing of one’s tail to no good end, or worse to the destruction of one’s self and many others.
If our actions determined God’s response to us, there would be no hope for us at all! Thank God our actions do not determine God’s response to us!
An old pastor spoke up at a cigar smoke filled room with Scotch glasses set next to the second deck of cards: Looking back at my ministry I pray mostly that I have not harmed anyone.
Relatively young (in my 40’s) at the time I thought it was an odd prayer. Why not pray that the good one did would actually bear fruit in a cascading style through many generations?
Now I understand all too well. Life is really not about how much good we can accomplish, if one is (trying to be) a good and kind person. Doing Good is wholly dependent upon God working in and through us, so that we get good things done almost by accident (actually its by the Holy Spirit ‘accidentally’ getting good things out of us.) Not doing intentional harm to others is something that is much more in the realm of our possible control. The old pastor’s prayer though deals with the unintentional harm one can hardly avoid doing, and from which only God can save us and those whom we have offered ministry to and still harmed.
The true project of human life is simple: to Give God Glory, by
1. confessing one needs saving, cannot save oneself, and God has through Jesus’ sacrifice redeemed us and set us free to …
2. sacrifice what may be seen as ‘our‘ ‘rights’ and ‘possessions’, so that others will experience through us Christ’s redemption of them, and God’s love that holds the universe together.
The world thinks reality is: IF we x, THEN God y.
God’s reality is this:
BECAUSE God blesses us, THEREFORE we can offer ourselves as servants who joyfully obey God’s commandments, loving God with all our heart, mind and strength: particularly obeying Jesus’ command to love our neighbour as ourselves, and even our enemy.
There is great blessing in obeying God, it is that God gets more done through us for others. There is great curse in disobeying God, and it is that we have failed to recognize the blessing God has already given us.
The challenges of Covid 19 intensify the need for us to see reality clearly, to trust God’s Blessings, and to listen to creation groaning under and rebelling because of our disobedience to God’s commands to love and protect all of creation, as stewards which God has made us to be.