Wednesday, July 28, 2010

May We Learn to Blush Again

I like this devotional article for today from Our Daily Bread, based on Jeremiah 6:14-20. But, as may be inevitable for a piece so short, it really only scratches the surface of Jeremiah's message for ancient Judah, the southern portion of the by-then long-splintered Israel (chapters 1 to 45) and for the nations (chapters 46 to 52).

It isn't just the priests and religious leaders of Judah who are about to incur God's wrath as Jeremiah writes. It's all people who should know better. Of course, God presented these prophecies through Jeremiah in the hope that they would turn to "the ancient path," the path revealed explicitly in the Ten Commandments, which Jesus summarized in the Great Commandment: to love God completely and to love others as we love ourselves. Those commands convey God's will for all of our relationships, priorities, our speech, our view of others' property, and how we use the gift of sexuality, among other things.

In the people of ancient Judah, God saw a people who didn't know how to blush any more. They were a people who should have known better. They should have known what ways of life were "blush-worthy." But this remnant of God's people overlooked the ancient path--the pathway of love for God and neighbor--and decided that, instead, they knew better than God or God's revealed will.

The Church of today, in many ways, resembles ancient Judah. God has been revealed to us in grace and mercy through Jesus Christ and yet, we too, have decided, whether by practice or by overt statements of policy, that we know better than God. And, at the risk of the immortal souls of those who listen to us for a Word from God, we in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have recently arrogantly arrogated to ourselves the power to tell some that it's OK to do what their sinful orientation tells them to do. (See here and here.)

For many, these actions were just the "straws that broke the camel's back," the first official statements of what has appeared to be long march away from God's Word and will in the ELCA.

God help us! May we learn to blush again! May we turn to the ancient path and begin to live repentant lives.

We are all sinners. We all fall short of God's glory. And we all have orientations to different sins. I personally have sins for which I repent each and every day. But may we never feel comfortable with our sins. May we never so worship ourselves that we dare to call God wrong or out of touch.

We in the ELCA need to repent and return to the ancient path!

I'm just sayin'.
Here's Jeremiah 6:14-20, by the way:
They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace. They acted shamefully, they committed abomination; yet they were not ashamed, they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown, says the Lord. Thus says the Lord: Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, “We will not walk in it.” Also I raised up sentinels for you: “Give heed to the sound of the trumpet!” But they said, “We will not give heed.”
Therefore hear, O nations, and know, O congregation, what will happen to them. Hear, O earth; I am going to bring disaster on this people, the fruit of their schemes, because they have not given heed to my words; and as for my teaching, they have rejected it. Of what use to me is frankincense that comes from Sheba, or sweet cane from a distant land? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor are your sacrifices pleasing to me.

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