This is less of a commentary on current socio-political events, and more of a biblical reflection on the nature of God, the dignity of the human soul, and the brokenness of the human heart.
Receiving the Call [to Mission]
“Proclaiming the kingdom of God and prophetically calling out the ways of Babylon, repenting of personal sin and systemic sin is what God calls every Christian to do no matter your tradition. This is what makes the church relevant to society at any age.”
– David M. Bailey
Right now our nation is experiencing pain from something very old, and also birth pangs from something new on the horizon… The current riots, violence and loss of life which the more recent unsettling deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd have led to people crying out in anger, pain, and desperation. While the riots, looting, and death which happened in the wake of abuses of power are unacceptable, the incidents which were the flash points for them happening are also unacceptable. In 1866 American statesman, abolitionist, social reformer, writer, and orator, Frederick Douglass, wrote in The Atlantic, “The thing worse than rebellion is the thing that causes rebellion.” His words are just as poignant 154 years later in 2020.
Repentance (a change of mind/heart) is a double-sided coin.. a two stage process. Turning away from a previous practice, paradigm or pattern is not enough. Repentance also calls us to turn toward a new way of being which, in turn, brings about a new world. In short, God not only calls us out of one way of living, but always into another way of being. Psychologists, pastors and sociologists would likely agree.. changing an ingrained pattern of behavior requires not only giving something up, but just as importantly, it requires replacing it with new and better practices… a new way to be human.
Isaiah’s Vision of the Lord
“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” 8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” 9 And he said, “Go, and say to this people:
“ ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
10 Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.””
– Isaiah 6:1-10, ESV
A) Has there ever been a time in your walk with the LORD that you’ve been surprised at His loving-kindness, mercy and grace when you’ve repented of, or relinquished something He convicted you about?
B) What did God’s actions toward you reveal about His own character? What did His actions reveal about His heart for you and His belief in you?
C) Finally, how does His calling on your life reveal His desire to do good through you to the world?
“Righteous God, you who raise the poor from the dust and who lift the needy from the ash heap, you who watch over the stranger and give the desolate a home, you who are a father of orphans and a protector of widows, by your Spirit make us agents of your justice and instruments of your peace today. We pray this in the name of Jesus, the Messiah who brings justice to victory. Amen.”
- ‘Justice’ from ‘Open and Unafraid: A Set of Psalms Prayer Cards’ by Rev. Dr. W. David O. Taylor, Anglican priest and Assistant Professor of Theology and Culture at Fuller Theological Seminary [http://artspastor.blogspot.com]
[image credit: Clay Banks, Unsplash.com]