Thursday, August 28, 2014

What Kind of Example are We?--by Linden Malki

The Bible is honest!  People are often surprised at some of the things you find there. In these  days where we are bombarded with unfiltered opinion on all sides, there are those who are astonishment that we Christians (and also Jews) can believe in a God whose people have done horrible things.

We need to understand that Scripture deals with the reality of life in a sinful world.  Yes, it includes instructions for living that pleases God. It also has honest descriptions of things that do not please God! Just because someone in the Bible has done something, it doesn't mean that we can or ought to do the same. We also read of times when God  is "mean" and judgmental. Yes, that is part of  reality as well.   I've heard people say "Look at what God did (or told His people to  do)--the victims couldn't have been THAT bad!"  My own take on that is that God knows more than we do--if He says that someone deserves judgment, that tells us that someone really was that bad! God takes evil seriously--and unrepented evil cannot  exist in His presence.

Looking at the convoluted history of the Jews and the Samaritans, the descendants of Jacob/Israel's twelve sons, we see that none of them totally lived up to God's instructions.  The temptation to get tangled up in the idol worship of the surrounding tribes and empires hit both the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Some of these idolatrous neighbors were worse than others, but the calling of Abraham's descendants was to be the demonstration of the Kingdom of God in contrast to this evil. In reading their stories, we are not supposed to do what they did, but to learn from what they did right (and were blessed) and what they did wrong (and were judged.) By the time of Jesus, both the surviving Judeans and the surviving Samaritans had kind of figured it out, with some differences that led to  mutual distrust.  What we see  is almost a paranoia about contamination; we see in the parable a priest and a Levite who quite possibly were more concerned by becoming "unclean" by getting involved with a stranger dying on the side of the road than reaching out to that stranger.  Jesus surprised His orthodox listeners, Bible scholars and professional "good people",  by making the Good Guy in the story someone who worshiped God in a different place, and whose ancestors had been harshly judged both by God and by their cousins.  

Just today I saw a "news" report of a popular TV preacher being accused of both moral lapses and financial irregularities.  Of course this brought out all sorts of folks throwing mud at God and everyone who "likes" Him.  What came to mind is Matthew 7:21-23; that says God is more concerned with what comes out of our heart than what comes out of our mouth.  Our calling is to find out what God says, and let that judge what a human being says. God will deal with judging other folks; we are ultimately responsible for what we say, what we do, and the example we set. 

No comments:

Post a Comment