GNB 25

June 12, 2022


“Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. Instead, grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forevermore. AMEN. (2 Peter 3.17-18)

“The heavens declare the glory of God. The skies proclaim the work of His hands. By day, day after day, they pour forth speech. By night, night after night, they reveal knowledge.” Psalm 19.1-2


I could have added a passage which Paul wrote to the faithful of Christ in Rome to those above which says “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message. The message is heard through the word about Christ.” (Romans 10.17) Applied to the beginnings lyrics of David’s song Psalm 19, I see this connection as follows:

Paul: Faith comes by hearing the message

David: [By day], day after day, the heavens pour forth speech [to be heard].

Paul: The message is heard through [the teaching] of the word about Christ.

David: [By night], night after night, the heavens reveal knowledge.

There is much that we still need to know, mighty ones of God, about ourselves and our world. We are learning much about ourselves day and night. Yet, what seems to make our “learning” dangerous is that there is a lack of wisdom in our learning. Wisdom is almost a consequence of our pursuit of knowledge. We learn more by our failures (short and long term failures) than our successes. Human history is littered with “oops.” I am reminded of Thomas Edison’s response to a question concerning how many failures he experienced before coming up with a working lightbulb. He said “I have found a thousand ways not to do it.” We might say the same for our own lives as we all have sinned and fallen short, and continue to do so. I suppose when the measure of our efforts is ” the height of success,” we can afford to have a string of failures littering the road behind as cast off trash. (Side note: I really dislike littering and see it as an act of pure laziness and ego-centrism.) But, what if the true measure of our success is not “the height of personal success” but the “depth of productivity for the greater good”? Would that change how we see things as well as how we look for things?

I am suggesting that while we can learn many things, there are some things that we ought not to pursue learning. Or, if we pursue learning such things that may prove dangerous to us or beyond our ability to understand and steward correctly, we must do so with a frame of reference that provides both balance and protection. We certainly lack a balance and protection from all manner of harm and evil today. Riotous living, self-serving demands and a desperate surrender of what makes for authentic spiritual living seem to be the rubric for understanding both our “speech” and our “knowledge.” What is it that the world really wants to talk about? Where is the talk about God on that list of topics? There is little truly different between today and the first century in which Jesus of Nazareth and Saul of Tarsus lived. Without getting into a sociological and ideological description, I want to simply offer the transition of a framework from geography to theology. As we pursue faith in ourselves and in God, Jesus of Nazareth is now Jesus the Christ. As we pursue the purpose of faith in ourselves and in God, Saul of Tarsus becomes Paul the Apostle of Christ. The frame of reference is “the gospel, the word about Christ.” If whatever we desire to learn and learn (by trial and error) is defined by this frame of reference, then what we learn and how we learned it is refined and defined by the will of God for us and those whom we serve (others and God.) Is this not the way of Jesus the Christ? Night and day, day and night, Jesus spoke and taught. His speech was the will of God. His teaching was the understanding of God’s will. Is that the way we are learning and teaching today? I dare say the excesses and dangers we see in the world today come from forsaking this vital frame of reference.

Why do so many refuse to accept such a frame of reference in their learning and teacing? There are hundreds perhaps millions of reasons why that would be given but it may easily be summed up in one word. That word is “self.” If all efforts are referenced by “what is good for me,” then all else becomes acceptable collateral damage. I am not even sure if “acceptable” is an acceptable description. Maybe forgotten or dismissed collateral damage would be a better term. Honestly, the cast off, forgotten, dismissed litter of lives strewn behind us is appalling. Even the pursuit of “making it right for others” is focused on “making it right for me.” The intention is so much less “the rights of others” as it is more for “my rights.” The very words from one of Jesus’ teachings, not just speech, says this “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness; then what is truly needed (food, drink, clothing) will be provided.” (Matthew 6.33 referencing verse 31) The first priority is the frame of reference which guides Jesus’ words (speaking) and His purpose (teaching.)

But, “I need more than food, drink and clothing” to make it in this world. That is too simple an answer and calls us to such a simple life. Yet, isn’t all the clammering of today calling for a “simpler” life? The desire for “normalcy” is no more and no less a call for a life without conflict, chaos and poverty of body, mind and soul. The striving for more satisfies less and less. The more we have the less we are satisfied. Is that because our frame of reference is comparing our lives with the lives of others instead of living life in harmony comparable with the life of Jesus, the revealed Word of God? With that reflection in mind, let me make the following comparison between Paul’s words and Peter’s.

Paul: Faith comes by hearing the message

Peter: Grow in grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ [the pronouncement of forgiveness and the release of hate.]

Paul: The message is heard through [the teaching] of the word about Christ.

Peter: Grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ [the instruction of faith in action which is our rubric for authentic and eternal success.]

For David, Paul and Peter, it is the Christ which makes all the difference in how we live this life in this world. All sinned. All were forgiven. All were empowered by grace. All were successful in accomplishing the good that was assigned to them. The same can be said of us if we make “Jesus” our must in pursuit of the knowledge and wisdom that will make all the difference in our lives now and in the days to come.

OUR CALL TO PRAYER: Father God, maker of Heaven and earth, we bow before You and give thanks. You are seeking to make us wise in the ways of Your Kingdom through the knowledge and grace of Your Son, Jesus who is the Christ. We are seeking to be wise by embracing Your word and Your revelation in Him. Thank You for honoring His request to share His Spirit with us. As we believe more, we find the depth of grace and the fullness of knowledge to be exhilarating and motivating. We will take it with us today and each day into the world knowing it is the new environment by which and in which we live. It is the Kingdom of God on earth. We will seek to be in the world to do Your will and not be of the world doing our own. Come with us, Lord, we pray. AMEN.

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