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Faith can’t fit in a meme box or 140 character tweet…

Devotional Thought of the Day:God, who am I?

24  The father at once cried out, “I do have faith, but not enough. Help me have more!”    Mark 9:24 (TEV)

8  No, the LORD has told us what is good. What he requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God. Micah 6:8 (TEV)

FAITH IS SOMETHING we need to ask for. God forbid that we should fail to be importunate with God and with his saints. One of the most refined forms of arrogance consists in claiming that prayer of petition is inferior to other forms of prayer . Only when we become beggars do we realize that we are creatures. When we don’t honor the faith of humble folk, who can teach us how to ask for what we need, then we think that what saves us is pure faith; but that is empty faith, a faith devoid of all religion and all piety. In such a state, we are unable to interpret religious experience. Our intellects go astray with their feeble lights, and we resort to explaining the truth of faith with slogans borrowed from cultural ideologies .  (1)

This quote from a pope is one we desperately need to hear, especially those of us who spend any amount of time on Facebook or any other social media.

For far too often we reduce our faith on social media to a snappy quote, a “gotcha” meme, or even try to debate theology or the existence of God in 140 character bursts. What this does is what Pope Francis talks about above – a faith without experiencing God.  A Creed, a statement of “faith” that is not communicated, but forced in a way that eliminates conversation, that eliminates discussion.  Such burst messages don’t give the full picture, they miss the context, and therein is the problem.

One of my professors once said that good preaching and good theology contains not only the “what”, but the “so what”.  How the message impacts the hearer, or in the case of tweets, the reader. How do those words, seen digitally on the screen communicate the need we have to relate to God, to live in fellowship with Him?  How can we help people realize that God is dependable, and that they can depend on Him?  Even that sentence doesn’t include the incarnation, the death and resurrection of Christ.  It doesn’t shake us from our idol of self-sufficiency, our illusion that we can control our world, our environment.  For that is where humility begins, knowing that we can’t possibly be God, and in humility finding out that is okay.

Because God,, loves us enough to give up everything for us.

Neither the Pope or I am claiming you need more words to be holier, or more intellectual, but that deep faith is born in deep need.  Holiness originating in us, in our brokenness, healing of our lives comes as we realize how shattered they are.  It is at those points, when we cry out to God, that we can hear His voice.

And that is what faith, what the “Christian religion” is about – walking humbly with God, in a conversation, assured that He will guide us, comfort us, heal us.  Because He has proven, in Christ, the extent to which He will go, and has gone, to do this very thing.

May we today walk humbly, knowing we are His children, and He is our Heavenly father. …

 

Pope Francis; Jorge M Bergoglio (2013-11-18). Open Mind, Faithful Heart (p. 28). The Crossroad Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.

It’s not Fair! (or right, or legal or just or moral ) Uhm, who made us judge?

English: Jesus Christ, polychromed and gilded ...

English: Jesus Christ, polychromed and gilded woodcarved relief by Martin Vinazer (* 1674 in St. Ulrich in Gröden; † 1744) signed MVF (MV Fecit) Deutsch: Gefasstes Holzrelief des Martin Vinatzer gezeichnet MVF (MV Fecit) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Devotional thought of the day:

7  And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus. 8  In conclusion, my friends, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable. 9  Put into practice what you learned and received from me, both from my words and from my actions. And the God who gives us peace will be with you.   Philippians 4:7-9 (TEV) 

“When a layman sets himself up as an arbiter of morals, he frequently errs; laymen can be only disciples.”  (1)

A disclaimer to start with: I have been having to deal with, preparing to deal with, and contemplating taking on a few things that are injust, unfair, and is in one situation – evil.   Why I do this, I don’t know – and it frustrates the heck out of me.

When I read the words of St Josemaria Escriva, quoted above this morning, my reaction was twofold.

The first was that I thought the word pastor/priest should be added to the word laymen.   As I think through that one, I realize that we as individuals do not, but in our role as ordained, as we stand in Christ’s place – by his command and forgive and retain sins, we do have that role.   We even have the role to confront people who have sinned against us.  (see Luther’s Large Catechism – the section on the Ten Commandments – The 8th Commandment for a great discussion of this)

But we cannot set ourselves up as the arbiter, as the judge, jury and executioner.  Not our role.

The other reaction I had, is – this statement flies in the face of 60% plus of what I see on FB.  From people commenting on selected photos of presidents and their umbrellas, to comments about how evil that person is, or this one, or how unjust this situation and that is, we vent our frustrations on the internet.  We like having that illusion of power, and an illusion is all that it is.   We feel like we can strike back, that we aren’t powerless, that we have a voice, that we somehow fulfilled a religious obligation.  And we are just spinning our wheels, and our souls.  There is a time to effectively work to overcome evil – in a way that is personal and caring and effective.

We haven’t been doing what’s good and beneficial.  In fact, when we set ourselves up as judge and jury, as we spend our time digging up the mud on this person or that, as we fight for our “rights”, we effectively say “no” to the peace of God.  We take the matter into our hands –  and with the illusion of power, allow things to take our minds off of what St. Paul suggests we should be doing,

Focusing on Christ, and His work.  Looking at the things which will bring Christ into the picture, His mercy, His love, His gospel.

Whether it makes things fair or not.  After all – Christ didn’t combat evil – talking about what was fair and moral.  He overcame it – by loving us enough to suffer the evil – to show us that love.

As we deal with Mondays, and a complicated week – and we want to strike out because its not fair, let us instead remember we are nailed to the cross of Christ – that we’ve died and risen with Him.

Therefore – we are home – and at peace.

 

Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 310-311). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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