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|Genesis 15:1-12 & 17-18||Psalm 27||Philippians 3:17-4:1||Luke 13:31-35|
by Benjamin Cowan
In this passage, Jesus is given a choice, will he give in to fear or continue with the mission of God? He is warned that Herod is looking to kill him; therefore, he should go away and hide. Jesus responds by telling them that he will continue doing the work of God. Jesus knows that if he stops, the sick will not be healed, the oppressed will not be set free and the least of the least will not know how God loves and values their life. This is a fight or flight moment for Jesus and he chooses to stand steadfast in the mission of God. What will you choose? Will you choose to proclaim the good news to the poor, the prisoner, the widow, the debtor, the captive, the forgotten, the ones with despised bodies, and those who are held as outcast by society or the religious communities? This is a dilemma that every minster and Christian will face when confronted with the choice to stand for justice. Many churches today and in the past have been split over issues of social justice as members abandoned churches and boards voted pastors out for daring to love their neighbor as their-self. Yet, it remains the mission of church to stand for the idea that God is love and God calls us to love our neighbor not with words only but in action. The consequences of choosing to commit to love in action according to Jesus will be severe. It often will lead to rejection by those in power who are invested in preserving things as they are. Prophets are killed in Jerusalem for daring to describe reality for what it is versus presenting a fanciful picture of a perfect reality that strokes people’s egos. Most people prefer to hear a Pleasantville version or see a Matrix view of the world versus being exposed to the pain and suffering that illusion allows to be hidden. Prophets die for speaking the truth. In speaking the truth, change can come that will heal the oppressed, the oppressors, and all in between; but most will prefer keeping the status quo; yet the day will come when all will see the wisdom of the words of Jesus about putting liberating love into action.
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
This passage in Genesis tells us why we do not have to give into fear. In this passage, God confirms to and reminds Abraham of his promise to him concerning his son and the future nation that will come from him. Abraham, through ritual, learns that God is faithful to God’s word. We do not fear in proclaiming good news to all humanity and that all are made in the image of God because God’s word tells us that justice is to roll on like a river and righteousness like a never-failing stream (Amos 5:24)!
In this passage, fight becomes defined as having faith. This to believe in God’s word and living in deed according to it. This passage calls us to ask, will we live by faith—working actively for a world of peace and love or will embracing our world as it is—divided by selfishness, greed, prejudice and pride?
The Philippians passage warns us that there are those who will say that they are following Christ, but have succumbed to being drunk with the wine of the world by giving themselves over to greed, selfishness, prejudice, and pride. They have abandoned the imitation of Christ, who extended his hands to all. This drunkenness with the wine of the world in the name of gospel is blatantly demonstrated by many prosperity preachers who have become rich by robbing the poor, single parents, the sick, the destitute, and the elderly. It is seen by comfortable middle-class/suburban/urban churches who have abandoned the inner cities, who have isolated themselves from those who are of different economic class and ethnic backgrounds, and have made charity or interaction with the other special occasions only. When all our not welcomed or made at home in the church, the imitation of Christ, which Paul exhorts us to in this passage, is lost. Paul calls us to stand firm in faith, believing that a new world is on the horizon and we as citizens of that new world must live according to it, not according to the exaltation of the selfish desires, but in love towards our neighbor.
The psalm brings together the above themes and exhorts us to sing aloud of our trust and hope in God. Let us sing as a confession that we will not give into fear, though everything in society may tell us to conform, even our friends or parents may tell us to embrace a deceptive pragmatism that leaves things as they are; let us confess in song like this psalmist, that we will have faith in God and the good news of God’s message! Yes, that we will listen to the teaching of the Lord concerning how we are to live and what we are to do in this world and know that “the Way” is far better than anything that the riches of the world can offer. Things may become bleak and despair may seem on the horizon, yet if we wait on the Lord, will he not deliver his people? The psalmist answers that question with a yes, if we will believe in the word of the Lord and commit ourselves to building loving relationships with the other!