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Retired archaeologist and governmental tree-hugger. I'm a: United Methodist lay pulpit supply preacher; semi-professional photographer; and poet.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Foul-weather Christians



Throughout the Jewish Bible, our Old Testament, we see time and time again that it is at those times when we are the most prosperous that our faith is the weakest, that we are the most separated from God!

"All these curses will come on you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the Lord your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you. They will be a sign and a wonder to you and your descendants forever. Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the Lord sends against you. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you." Deuteronomy 28:45-48

When things go well, we forget God, or we thank Him/Her for our super-awesomeness, for our ability to be so wonderfully great, for our not being like the poor Poor. Our faith in ourselves, in the "system", in the American-way, is strongest when we feel strongest. But, when things go bad, when we feel weak, we are quick to all of a sudden remember God! (Often however, we return to God only to plead for a return of our own prosperity, our own health and success, to make the Church or America great again.) We listen to the silvery-tongue of the prosperity gospel false-prophets, and ignore the first-shall-be-last Gospels.

Deuteronomy talks to us, not about faith as belief, but as obedience and service. When we are economically comfortable and full of ourselves, our obedience slips - we forget to serve and demand that others serve us instead! We jealously guard our "hard-earned" prosperity from those who "don't deserve" it. And, when we do obey, we obey joylessly. When we do serve, we serve resentfully. What does the Lord tell us about when that happens? "You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life." (Deut. 28:66) How many of us does this describe?

Over and over again, Deuteronomy refocuses us on how we treat these three vulnerable groups: the alien; the orphaned; the widowed. Do we serve the powerless, or the powerful? Do we lift others up, or push them down? Do we serve those who can do something for us in exchange, or do we serve those who God commands us to serve? Do we serve with joy, or is our joy in money, power, and things? Do I serve come rain or come sun, or am I only a fair-weather "Christian"?



(photography by tiwago)

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