June 26, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows..” (Psalms 23.5)
“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I AM Yahweh Elohim.” (Leviticus 19.18)
With the recent Supreme Court ruling concerning abortion rights and its impact then on revoking the fifty-year landmark decision of Roe v Wade, we have seen the depth of our spiritual depravity as a nation. I am speaking of the responses pro and con which have taken to the streets and social media of all types including the news broadcasting companies. I will not back down in saying “we have lost our way as a people.” We dare criticize and chastise those who promote violence in schools, supermarkets, houses of government, malls, houses of worship and the like while we take to the streets in non-peaceful demonstration ready to combat verbally and physically with insinuated or real threats. Violence and the threat of violence begats violence. The primal scream of outrage, treachery and rebellion speak to the lack of faith that there exists a “peace which surpasses all human understanding.” It also points out that we are far from a nation of unity whether it is of God or of the world. We are seeing the fruit of not being “one nation under God.” Instead, the fruit is being harvested as “one nation under attack.” And that attack is not by flesh and blood but by, as the Apostle Paul scribed it to the community of faith in Ephesus, “principalities and powers aligned with the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places be they on earth or in realms beyond the earth.” The depravity of those arguing for and against fall far more into “flesh and blood” rubrics than spiritual ones. We, mighty ones of God, must remember who it is that we are and, more importantly, whose we are. We are aligned with the God of all creation. In Jesus the Christ, the ruler of all creation for better and worse, has already been adjudicated by the empty cross and the empty tomb. As I said on Friday, “we are called to be a people who walk through the valleys of the shadow of death and not as those who walk as mere shadows of life.” We must be the “real deal” or we are a lie and a misrepresentation of the truth. What is that “real deal” and what is “the truth”? It is none other than Jesus who is the only begotten Son of God, Lord and Savior, Immanuel- God with us, friend and brother and neighbor by faith. He gave up His life as an atonement for our sin and surrendered Himself to the abiding will of our Heavenly Father so that all those who seek eternal life in peace, tranquility and the fullness of all being may have, for themselves, access to such by believing in Him and calling upon His name to be their very own.” The end will justify the means of God to show that there is, has been and will be only “one way, one truth, one life.”
As I said in the beginning of this reflection, we are seeing the true nature and character of who we are on both sides of the argument. Let me suggest, for the sake of argument, that there are three posits on the spectrum of faith in God: for God, against God and those who wish to have it both ways. And while the brokenness of this world has manifested the abberation of life as we see it in its tragic and life-demeaning venues (such as rape, incest which is rape, sexual slavery, and genetic defects), we who claim unity with God dare not divorce ourselves from the high standard of living to which we are called. We may claim grace and forgiveness as the caveats for our search for the “good” life (remembering that good is that which fulfills the will of God as it was intended). We may not use it, as the Apostle Paul decreed, “as a license to sin.” Therefore, we cannot have our cake and eat it, too. We cannot play both ends against the middle nor assume the middle can satisfy both ends. Jesus taught, “We cannot serve two masters; we will always love the one and hate the other.” Yes, Jesus was using that paradigm in a context of “the love for money or mammon.” Essentially, mammon, was that which would have been committed to serve as a tithe and offering- a set aside fund for a specific purpose. But, the principle proposed by the wisdom of Jesus is applicable to far more than the pursuit of money. It speaks to the pursuit of power, prestige, property, prosperity, passion and perversion. Establishing any one of those concepts and their related offspring as being over and against the will and purpose of God for fruitful living is a recipe for disaster and chaos. In those things there is no positive and healthy future. Even “all things in moderation” creates a difficult walk that is as problematic to accomplish as it would seem “to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me (Jesus the Christ.)” The young ruler walked away defeated because his love for self, self-preservation and his self-determined understanding of “the way, the truth and the life” did not match up to his proposed goal of “do what it takes to have eternal life.” He had lived in the shadow of life which existed in the middle of what God expects and what the world intends. What he missed was “the Kingdom of God in the midst of us.” Being centered is not the same as taking the middle road.
As a reminder, Jesus revealed to John the Presbyter His view of what I have reflected upon above. In truth, my reflection is derived from that same revelation to which Jesus said to the “angel of the Church of Laodicea” that they should be hot or cold but never lukewarm. He was speaking, of course, to their spiritual lives which then informed their earthly lives. The Church in Laodicea had dared to affirm the opposite was true or equally true. They believed their earthly living then determined what was spiritually true. In today’s vernacular they may have said “Well, God made me this way so it has to be okay. I’m okay. You’re okay. Okay?” But, it wasn’t true. As mighty ones of God, forgiven sinners still wrestling with surrendering all to Jesus to follow Him, they were not acting as if they were made what God had made them. They were not living as they were made to be humans in the image of God before the Fall. They were not living as they were made to be humans in the image of Christ after the Call. They were living with the parenthetical “one foot in the grave.” The question was and is “one foot coming out or one foot going in.” We are called to stand firmly on the rock of our salvation. That salvation, and our faith in it, is the foundation upon which we stand and launch ourselves out into the deep to broadcast the good news, make disciples of all nations and be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The question for us today, in reflection is, “How are we supposed to respond in light of this crisis which is merely the other side of the coin of the crisis we have focused on for at least the past fifty years?” What in our behavior and attitude is “winning souls to Christ” over and against “winning against the enemy of Christ.” Are we truly fighting the “enemy of Christ” who is not flesh and blood but exists in the powers, principalities and realms of a dark kingdom? Are we clinging to the plan of Christ who implores us to “bear His yoke make especially for us” or are we putting our yoke on the shoulders of those who are not like us and our “chosen” perspective? He said, and I reiterate time and again, “The battle is the Lord’s.” But, do not be mistaken on this. The battle is meant to be fought as the Lord fought it and it will result in the consequence of His determination where there is only right and wrong, good and bad, righteous and evil. His battle plan is this:
- Love God with your whole self.
- Love your neighbor as your whole self.
- Love you enemy.
- Love one another within the community of those who love God with their whole self, their neighbor as their self and their enemies.
- Love being His disciples! By the disciples’ love, the world will know and acknowledge what is the truth and what they will believe about it. We do not need to judge them whether they accept it or reject it: that battle is His. What we need to demonstrate is His love for us all: that battle is ours.
OUR CALL TO PRAYER:
Father, thank You for abiding in us but also calling us into accountability by Your Word of faith. May our eyes, ears, hearts, mind, spirit and soul be wide open to the leading of Your Spirit in these troubled time. We ask this through Jesus our Christ in whose name we live, serve and pray. AMEN.