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FB Behavior and the Theology of the Cross…

English: the beginning of the 1. Epistle to th...

English: the beginning of the 1. Epistle to the Corinthians (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Devotional Thought of the Day:

 Bless your persecutors; never curse them, bless them. 15  Rejoice with others when they rejoice, and be sad with those in sorrow. 16  Give the same consideration to all others alike. Pay no regard to social standing, but meet humble people on their own terms. Do not congratulate yourself on your own wisdom17  Never pay back evil with evil, but bear in mind the ideals that all regard with respect. 18  As much as possible, and to the utmost of your ability, be at peace with everyone.  Romans 12:14-18 (NJB)

4  Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, 5  it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances. 6  Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth. 7  It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes.  1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NJB) 

  Never reprimand anyone while you feel provoked over a fault that has been committed. Wait until the next day, or even longer. Then make your remonstrance calmly and with a purified intention. You’ll gain more with an affectionate word than you ever would from three hours of quarreling. Control your temper.  (1)

How quickly we are ( okay – I am) to send a scathing rebuke across the cypberwaves!

We see something really idiotic, or vicious, or heretical posted, and we re-create the cyber version of MAD – mutually assured destruction.

Please read carefully, it is not that we shouldn’t respond, but it is how we should respond.  With love, with caring, with the goal of reconciliation and not just confrontation. ( Yeah I know I am preaching to me more than everyone else)  But if we don’t hear this, if we aren’t reminded to love, if we don’t bear the cross we’ve been given – for their sake, we find out that we will also suffer.

For we will have abandoned the peace of Christ, we will have walked out of the fortress, that mighty fortress that is our God.  We will have tried to become the conquering savior of FB or twitter… and chosen a path to deliver it from evil that is not the cross.   At the cost of destroying each other.

So today – if you have to do it – maybe not wait a day – but take a five minute walk… before hitting enter.

And while you do, pray,

“Lord have mercy on me… a sinner”

Godspeed

 

Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 185-187). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Vengeance is Mine! says God, but my will is…. (more we don’t want to hear…but need to!)

English: Icon of Jesus Christ

English: Icon of Jesus Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Devotional/Discussion thought of the day….

WARNING – If you don’t like yesterday’s post…read on.. and be challenged some more.

One of the challenges for people who claim to be Christian, is to encounter the entire counsel of God in scripture…and not just isolate passages.  Here are some incredibly timely…

 18  Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody. 19  Never take revenge, my friends, but instead let God’s anger do it. For the scripture says, “I will take revenge, I will pay back, says the Lord.” Romans 12:18-19 (TEV)

 2  Whoever opposes the existing authority opposes what God has ordered; and anyone who does so will bring judgment on himself. 3  For rulers are not to be feared by those who do good, but by those who do evil. Would you like to be unafraid of those in authority? Then do what is good, and they will praise you, 4  because they are God’s servants working for your own good. But if you do evil, then be afraid of them, because their power to punish is real. They are God’s servants and carry out God’s punishment on those who do evilRomans 13:2-4 (TEV)

In light of the recent attacks on Boston, we really, really like these verses.  We want vengeance, and as long as it meats our standard, we are more than willing to let God use whoever He wants, the FBI, local police, my prefereance – the USMC  – whoever.

But if we are to trust God with wreaking vengeance on these horrific sins, then we have to trust Him…(gulp) to do it in a way consistent with His character, with His will….

and that may mean… He will not get vengeance in a way that we will appreciate.  Matter of fact, we may hate the idea.

A couple of other passages:

 8  But do not forget one thing, my dear friends! There is no difference in the Lord’s sight between one day and a thousand years; to him the two are the same. 9  The Lord is not slow to do what he has promised, as some think. Instead, he is patient with you, because he does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants all to turn away from their sins. 2 Peter 3:8-9 (TEV)

 21  It was to this that God called you, for Christ himself suffered for you and left you an example, so that you would follow in his steps. 22  He committed no sin, and no one ever heard a lie come from his lips. 23  When he was insulted, he did not answer back with an insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but placed his hopes in God, the righteous Judge. 24  Christ himself carried our sins in his body to the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness. It is by his wounds that you have been healed. 25  You were like sheep that had lost their way, but now you have been brought back to follow the Shepherd and Keeper of your souls. 1 Peter 2:21-25 (TEV)  (see Isaiah 52-53 and Romans 3-5 for more on this)

9  Do not pay back evil with evil or cursing with cursing; instead, pay back with a blessing, because a blessing is what God promised to give you when he called you. 1 Peter 3:9 (TEV) 

I could go on and on – God did get the fullest of vengeance on these sins, and many, many more.  And we have to trust Him at His word – every sin has been paid for, every bit of evil perpetrated by man.  And justice has been done, as Peter noted above.

And proved that God the father is not willing that any should perish, but that all come to repentance, to transformation, to know His love, His mercy and forgiveness.

That is, I guess – where our trust in Him has to be challenged.  Could God forgive these people?  Could God forgive the horrors that have been done to mankind?

I think that is why the old general prayer in the Lutheran Hymnal had us give voice to these words, “May it please Thee also to turn the hearts of our enemies and adversaries that they may cease their enmity (with  God) and be inclined to walk with us in meekness and peace” ( The Lutheran Hymnal p.23)  I am deeply indebted to the pastor who introduced this hymnal to me, as well as the Theology of the Cross.  The Theology that so tells us of the depth of God’s love and providence in our lives – that suffering becomes something where I depend on Him more, trust in Him more… and know even more that He is with me.

How many of us are ready to pray such a prayer?  Whether it be about those who have traumatized Boston, or the neighbor…or maybe our boss?

Are we willing to trust God that far?  Are we willing to be that bold in our faith – that we can God to God and say – Vengeance or Mercy- it is Your call God.  Doing so, pouring our our pain, our anxiety at the altar.

Do we trust Him that much?

For if we can trust Him that much, how assured are we that He has done the same for us.  For every one of our sins, for every one of our failures.

I for one, am not strong enough – even the strength to write this – requires that I depend on Him for it – that He will create in me the strength necessary.

And for this day… so far.. He seems to be providing that strength I need to trust Him.  Even thought I don’t want it, even though I do not like to depend on Him for it, and would rather play God….

But it is there… and in Him, I can find peace.

 

 

 

Why Do We Need to Play God? Dealing with Anger and Wrath

Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:

 1 GOD spoke all these words: 2 I am GOD, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of a life of slavery. 3 No other gods, only meExodus 20:1-3 (MSG)

 For the last week, I have been as angry as I can get, saddened by an action taken, that I can only describe as wrong, as a cruel betrayal.  From my perspective, the betrayal is heinous, as hideous, and all the more, it was unnecessary for any action to be taken.  I am still trying to chart a course that will allow me to speak clearly and confront it, even thought I presume it will not matter.

It probably doesn’t help that in the midst of this, I have been helping people deal with the death of loved ones. Death has a way of putting things in perspective, of causing us to realize how incredibly helpless we seem to be, of how life is still but a mystery, and death, a great equalizer.

As I prepare for another memorial service today, of a man who was one of those guys, that pastors need, someone who allows us to be…human, to be ticked off, to blow off steam and to work together, I started to wonder…

Why do we so need to play God?  Why do we expect that we have a right to righteous indignation (are we righteous enough ourselves in the first place?), to strike out with wrath, to get vengeance (and revenge).  Haven’t we had to face our own failures?  Don’t we realize we deserve wrath?  Don’t we gather on Sundays (at least some of the time) to celebrate that we have been shown mercy?

We don’t have to play God – don’t we realize we have One?  One who delivers us from truly righteous indignation, the One who has the right to wrath, and would so easily pass on it, so that He could embrace us as His children, give us comfort and peace, and walk with us, sharing every moment of every day, pointing out the blessings that He created, and reminding us that His greatest masterpiece…. 

Is His people, reconciled to His, made part of His family, welcomed into His presence.

Lord this day, help me contemplate how to address that which has been done that is evil, not to pass judgment on those who took part in it, but to heal its damage, to depend on you to see created an atmosphere where forgiveness is sought, where mercy is dominant, where love prevails.

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