Reflections on how Christians help each other to grow and mature in loving God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love their neighbor as themselves.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Hungering and Thirsting for God

Luke 13:1-9; Isaiah 55:1-9

God's intentional will for human beings is to good health in body, mind, spirit, and in all human relationships. God's will is for all people to live lives of wholeness. For when we are healthy and whole we are more able to enjoy God. When we are healthy in body, mind, spirit and in our relationships God is pleased and God's heart rejoices.

The Hebrew word for God's will for all creation is shalom. Shalom is most often understood as peace. But its basic meaning is wholeness—a state of harmony among God, humanity and all of creation. Shalom is God's will and way for creation.

Unfortunately, there is a problem in this world; a problem that consistently gets in the way of shalom. This problem has worked its way into every corner of God's good creation. It is inside every human being, every human institution, every human community. The problem has a name; its name is sin.

Sin turns human beings away from God and shalom and turns us toward ourselves. Sin seeks to distort and twist us until we break. It convinces us that we don't need God, that God is not interested in our well-being, that God doesn't want us to have any fun. Sin wants us to believe that the poor are poor because they are lazy and they deserve to be miserable; people whose skin is a different color than mine are inferior and not to be trusted; that wealth and power are signs of God's favor and blessing; and that I don't need God. Sin works to persuade us that we earn and deserve everything we receive in this life; both the good and the bad.

The power of sin in the world would have us believe that victims of natural and man-made disasters deserve their fate. For example, it is the power of sin that made many believe that AIDS is God's weapon of judgment against gay men. Never mind that the vast majority of people suffering with the AIDS virus in the world today are heterosexual women and men, and their children. The powers of sin would also make the argument that the victims of El Nino powered natural disasters are simply being punished by God. In other words, the people affected by mudslides and floods in California are being punished by God because they are worse sinners than you and me. The victims of the terrible tornado storm that struck central Florida last month were being punished for their sins. And the people of Red River basin of North Dakota and Minnesota were chosen by God for punishment for some unknown sin. Sin wants us to believe that God is responsible for the disasters that bring death and suffering to thousands of innocent people every year. Sin goal is to blind us to God's intentional will for good health and wholeness in body, mind, spirit and all human relationships; shalom.

Finally, sin keeps us from understanding "the most precious gift of all, the gift of life in God's presence, is free. All that can exclude you is your insisting that there are places you would rather be. Why would anyone every decide thus? Because you want to determine the menu.

You want to be in control of the company you keep" (Hanson, Isaiah 40-66). Sin persuades us that we, and not God, are in control of our lives, our relationships, our nation and the world.

And that God isn't for us; that, in fact, God is against us.

That is what Jesus was up against in Luke 13:1-9. He told the people that they were no different than the unfortunate ones slaughtered by Pilate in the Temple and crushed by the fallen tower at Siloam. Jesus exposed the fallacy of their reasoning while at the same time driving home the point that life is uncertain, death is capricious, and judgment is inevitable. Jesus uses death as a metaphor for the coming judgment. His message is that the need for repentance is urgent.

Life is a gift from God that is fragile and precious. It's up to us to decide how we use that gift.

We never know when it will be taken from us by disease, accident, war, or old age. So, use it well.

"The lesson of the fig tree is a challenge to live each day as a gift from God. Live each day in such a way that you will have no fear of giving an account for how you have used God's gift" (NIB).

Our soul hungers and thirsts for God. The hunger is satisfied and the thirst quenched when we repent; when we turn from the habits and attitudes of self-centeredness, narcissism, and materialism; those habits and attitudes that distract us from God and the life God wants to give us. God's will for each of us is wholeness, shalom. God wants to restore health to our bodies, peace to our minds, assurance to our spirit, and life to all our human relationships. Repentance is the way God gives us to begin the process of healing and restoration of right relationship with God, with others and with ourselves.

Christ is our spiritual food and drink that give new life and wholeness to our lives. In him God has entered our world to restore shalom. He invites each of us each day to join him; to turn toward him and receive the gift of life, health and peace that only he can give. Will you repent today? Will you turn away from your sin and turn toward Christ who is the source of your healing? Is your soul hungry for food? Does your soul thirst?

"... everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; Come to Christ and receive his life, his healing, his peace, his shalom.


Blogger PamBG said...

Thank you for this. A thoughtful preview for this Sunday's lessons!

You said: The power of sin in the world would have us believe that victims of natural and man-made disasters deserve their fate.

I like this. I tend to equate this attitude with "the way of the world" but perhaps equating it with "sin" is a bit more straight-forward and understandable.

2:42 PM


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