I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD. (Psalm 32:8-10)
Monday, After the Holy Trinity
God, we praise you: Father all powerful, Christ Lord and Savior, Spirit of love. You reveal yourself in the depths of our being, drawing us to share in your life and your love. One God, three Persons, be near to the people formed in your image, close to the world your love brings to life. We ask you this, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, true and living, for ever and ever. Amen
There are a lot of messages being broadcast in today’s world. There is much anger, angst, and turmoil that is bubbling through various media channels regarding the corona virus, racial injustices, and an upcoming election.
As I listen to these messages they seem energizing, invigorating, and anxiety-producing all at the same time. Perhaps for those who have been cooped up too long under restrictions, protesting is a great outlet for the anxiety and angst that many of us feel right now.
As I hear all this, I want to balance it with God’s word. As a pastor, the message God has impressed upon my heart to share is that we need to be cautious in these times. It is easy to point fingers at those whose guilt is obvious. It feels good to rally support for justice against oppressors, and join with others to end inhumane practices. There is a sense of satisfaction whenever perpetrators of evil get what’s coming to them.
But what if the tables were turned? What if it was your knee that had pressed too long, or your hands that fired the trigger that ended someone’s precious life? Is there any hope? Is there any forgiveness? Is mercy something that can be given?
Justice is great when the other guy gets what he deserves. But what if justice comes for you or me?
Heaven forbid that we should ever carry out evil actions against others. Unfortunately the Bible says that we have all sinned and fall short of God’s standards. We all have done things that do violence to those around us. Maybe not with a knee or a gun, but with words, with unkindness, and unforgiveness. An old adage reminds us that when we point a finger at someone else, there are three pointing back at us.
In God’s economy, we all are in solidarity–none of us are righteous, none of us are without fault. We all stand on level ground before the cross of Jesus. We all need his mercy and grace. One of the most haunting thoughts of all that we should remember especially in these times: Jesus tells us, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-2)
That’s why I love the good news of what Jesus offers to each person in this world, whether they are good, bad, or somewhere in the middle. He offers full and free forgiveness of sins secured by his own holy and precious life given for us.
I’m reminded of one of King David’s songs, Psalm 32. I offer it to you for your reflection:
How blessed are those whose offense is forgiven,
those whose sin is covered!
How blessed those to whom the LORD imputes no guilt,
in whose spirit is no deceit!
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away because of my groaning all day long;
day and night your hand was heavy on me;
the sap in me dried up as in a summer drought.
When I acknowledged my sin to you,
when I stopped concealing MY guilt, and said,
“I will confess my offenses to the LORD”;
then you, you forgave the guilt of my sin.
This is what everyone faithful should pray at a time when you can be found.
Then, when the floodwaters are raging, they will not reach to him.
You are a hiding-place for me, you will keep me from distress;
you will surround me with songs of deliverance.
“I will instruct and teach you in this way that you are to go;
I will give you counsel; my eyes will be watching you.”
Don’t be like a horse or mule that has no understanding,
that has to be curbed with bit and bridle, or else it won’t come near you.
Many are the torments of the wicked,
but grace surrounds those who trust in the LORD.
Be glad in the LORD; rejoice, you righteous!
Shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Langdon Reinke