Do you know that this place at this table is for you? Do you know that it has always been set for you, do you know that you belong here, that you are accepted here, that you are needed here,
A “punishing God” doesn’t sound like the God that Job knows but hears it so much he starts to think that maybe his friends are right, maybe everything happens for a reason. This phrase is so prevalent in our culture, it has become the go-to thing that people say when something bad happens, when there is some sort of suffering people say: oh well everything happens for a reason, God must have a plan for this.
We have an incredible amount of freedom. We have freedom of choice. We can pursue what we want. We can buy what we want; now with one-click and same-day delivery.
We are also the most obese nation in the world. We consume the most opioids than any other country. We have 4 percent of the world's population but the greatest number of deaths by drug overdose by far. We are addicted to our smartphones. The average number of times a person in the US checks their smartphone is 80 times a day, that's once every 12 minutes. Sociologist Brene Brown observes through her research that: "We are the most in debt, obese, addicted, medicated adult cohort in history."
You can be in the land of the free and be in bondage. There's freedom. And THEN there's freedom.
When our will is not aligned with God's will, when we are letting our ego drive and direct us instead of God, when we get on the fast lane to success and set aside God's purposes for our lives, we are goaded, we are prodded, we are nudged in the right direction...God is constantly and consistently trying to help us to go the right way but God doesn't force us to go...we can resist it...you can kick against the goads.
Most of the time it isn't walking on water...it's watering the garden, it's paying the water bill on time, it's advocating for clean water...and even that work--which may seem like exciting justice work--when you get down to it, but it mainly involves sending emails and calling people and setting up meetings...mundane but necessary tasks...doing these tasks as Christ would do them, with integrity and honesty and selflessness, that's Christian adulting.
The people who stand in the gap between where we are and where God wants us to be are resisters. They are disciples who have prayed for and received the power of the Holy Spirit...and the Holy Spirit leads them to speak and to act in the name of Jesus...what these first disciples understood, what their witness has taught generations of followers of Jesus since, is that not speaking the truth and standing up for what is right is not an option. You simply cannot be a faithful Christian and sit in silence on the sidelines while atrocities occur.
Consider what stepping outside of our comfort zones to be led by the Spirit looks like. For some that may mean starting a weekly prayer practice, perhaps with family members, or friends. For others, stepping outside of comfort zones may mean going and talking to someone more about how God is impacting your life.
You may say: cure the sick? But I'm not a doctor. Raise the dead? Cleanse the lepers? That sounds a little out of my league. Well maybe your marriage is sick. You have the power to work on healing your marriage right now. Maybe your friend is depressed. You have the power to reach out to her right now. Maybe some dream you have has died and you feel like the life has just been kicked out of you. You have the power to start again, to make something new. You are the committee. You have what you need within you already to cure the sick, to raise the dead.
I wonder if we pulled out our calendars right now and looked at this past week or this past month, or if we were to keep a running log of the hours in the day and what we did in each hour, it would be a good insight into our devotion...
Now if you have a group of people like those members of the early church whose calendars are for the most part synched, who all live in the same rhythm of life, who all give their time and energy to the same things, oh my the power of that!