Friday, March 30, 2012

Lent Day 32: Thankful for security in strange times

I've begun reading scripture with renewed curiosity and wonder. Studying makes you question everything – the assumptions of childhood that God is magical and at our beck and call, the confusion of teen years when only God knows what's going on, and the vigor of young adulthood that believes anything is possible if you feel it should be done.

The one thing that has remained is utter security. I'm certain that – whatever I know or don't know – God hasn't changed.

As I read the news in tandem with scripture, I'm amazed by the return to wickedness and immorality. There were times in American history when entire towns shut down their businesses so people could attend revival services. In the present-day USA, the Ten Commandments must be removed from places of government because they might offend someone.

History records that an American President received the first copy of the New American Standard Bible with gratitude and prayers. Today, Western cultures shudder at the term "sin" as self-righteous judgment of others and the mention of "wrong" as intolerance.

How strange!

This week, President Gauck was sworn in as Germany's new president. In a cheerful article listing his qualifications, coolness factor, and his confirmation by an overwhelming majority in German parliament, "Germany in Class" headlines bubbled that "the former pastor and rights activist, arrived with his partner, Daniela Schadt, at the presidential residence on Monday, March 19." Former pastor. Partner. In the same sentence, with no moral quiver.

I remember the ongoing indignation of my grandma, who was saved during the holiness revivals in Germany after WWII. She decried any hint of sin, any move away from conservatism in churches, and any ideas that seemed to lower standards for believers. She didn't fuss too much with those outside the Church because she thought God could deal with them. She believed that if Christians lived upright and righteous lives, sinners would be drawn to the Good News.

Reading this morning, I wondered what effect this "former pastor" Herr Gauck had on his congregation. Did some of them find the path to reconciliation with God? Did any hear the Word of Life when he preached? Did the scriptures speak to him personally, confronting his broken nature as it confronts mine?

Whatever I am called by others, I want to be tolerant and loving. I know those who do not follow Christ don't hold to the standards of Jesus. But I won't compromise by calling evil good or upholding immorality or looking away from destructive acts among those who claim His name.

I'd be insecure all day long if I considered human judgment and self-justification more important than God's disapproval. Pretending that His standards have changed would mean that His nature was transient and untrustworthy. That would make life more awful and terrifying than I can imagine. Grandma's wrath would be only a tiny foretaste of what is coming.

Read more:
*O LORD, you have searched me    and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. You hem me inbehind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there;    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:1-10 NIV

That which had not been told them they shall see. Isaiah 52:15

And the disciples went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it. Mark 16:20

Moravian Prayer: Like those early disciples, may we be so committed to serving you that the world will surely see you in the deeds we perform. Empower us to be your agents of justice in an unjust world, agents of healing in a sin-sick world, agents of welcome in a bigoted world and agents of peace in a war-torn world. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment