But I still haven’t found…

15 09 2011

There’s a sense of achievement associated with finding Wally.  He may be difficult to find, but you know what he looks like and once you’ve found him you can’t help but see him clearly.

It’s a bit like that with finding Jesus – he may be difficult to find, but we all know that we’re looking for a kind, peace-loving, healing type…aren’t we?

That’s why Jesus words in Luke 12 strike with such force –

“Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! From now on families will be split apart, three in favour of me, and two against—or two in favour and three against.” 

Then he illustrates what he’s saying with this quotation from Micah 7 –

 “Father will be divided against son
      and son against father;
   mother against daughter
      and daughter against mother;
   and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law
      and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Micah warns of an imminent crisis and urges that the only way forward is to have complete trust in God.

Jesus sees the crisis of his death coming and is distressed that so few people “get it”.  They’re good a reading the signs of the weather, but unable to see the signs of what’s happening in “the present times”.

Tough words. Tough love.  Do I really want to find a Jesus like that?

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There is always hope

11 09 2011

Love this Banksy

One of the challenges of reading Old Testament prophecy is that it often dots about.  (Not a problem if you have a “dotty” thought pattern!) One minute Micah is talking of impending judgement, the next he is talking about God’s blessings for his people:

  • he gives a depressing catalogue of crimes, followed by a fleeting ray of hope (2:12-13)
  • he describes corrupt and cruel leaders and then counters with the chosen king from Bethlehem (5:2-5)
  • the people will be judged, but there will be a remnant who will remain true (5:7-8)
  • society may be in disarray, but God will win through for his people (7:9ff)

In God’s economy, there is always hope and the appropriate response is one of worship:

“Where is the god who can compare with you—
   wiping the slate clean of guilt,
Turning a blind eye, a deaf ear,
   to the past sins of your purged and precious people?
You don’t nurse your anger and don’t stay angry long,
   for mercy is your specialty. That’s what you love most.
And compassion is on its way to us.
   You’ll stamp out our wrongdoing.
You’ll sink our sins
   to the bottom of the ocean.
You’ll stay true to your word to Father Jacob
   and continue the compassion you showed Grandfather Abraham—
Everything you promised our ancestors
   from a long time ago.”  (Micah 7:18-20 The Message)

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Selective deafness

2 09 2011

If we are called to “Pay Attention”, it is because something important is coming our way – whether it’s a loud hailer in New York warning of an approaching storm, or a teacher flagging up that she’s about to divulge a test question.  There’s also something about the credibility of the speaker who wants to convey information to us – who are they; do I trust them? – and a responsibility passed to us to listen and take action.

At the beginning of the book of Micah in the Old Testament section of the Bible, the call comes to God’s people in the 8th century BC – “Attention!  Look!” 

There follows a warning of imminent exile for the people because they have abandoned God’s ways.  I’m shouting at them – “Pay attention!  You’re being warned.”

How do they react?

“‘Don’t say such things,’ the people respond.  ‘Don’t prophesy like that.  Such disasters will never come our way!'”…

And Micah’s rejoinder?

“Suppose a prophet full of lies would say to you, ‘I’ll preach to you the joys of wine and alcohol!’    That’s just the kind of prophet you would like!”

It seems like they only hear what they want to hear, and that despite the urgency of the situation, they prefer to go their own way rather  than pay attention to God’s warning.

Micah’s themes of oppression, injustice, right to land, corrupt leaders and selective deafness are ancient, yet modern…and post-modern.  And the call to “Pay attention” rings through the centuries.

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