Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Reaping what you so . . . eventually, kind of.

We are following the daily lectionary to 'blog through the Bible'.  To read todays passages, or to sign up to have them delivered to your email go here:
So there certainly was a theme running through our passages this morning.  Not a happy one either.  I am not sure what label I would put on the theme, maybe judgment?  Regardless, in the OT passage Job is talking about the inconsequential nature of humans in comparison to God and how we are barely worthy of God's time or attention.  Happy stuff, right?
Then the Acts passage is the conclusion of the story of Peter's escape from Herod.  Not surprisingly, Herod is more than a little angry and takes out his anger on the poor prison guards, killing them.  Nice guy, Herod.  Then we have, what can only be called a strange little bit of story.  Herod also is angry with the region of Tyre and Sidon, they need the food supply that Herod controls and so he prepares to sit (in judgment?) of them and here them out.  After addressing the gathered public Herod is greeted by shouts from the crowd, saying these words, 'the voice of a god and not a mortal'.  And this is where it gets really strange, verse 23 says: 'And immediately, because he had not given the glory to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.'
Okay,  that is . . . um . . . interesting?  We will get back to that in a second.
Then in the gospel passage we have Jesus talking about how he does not glorify himself, but God glorifies himself.  Jesus begins this passage by saying that the reason they are not hearing (read: believing) the Word of God is that they are not from God.  Which seems to say that it isn't their choice - but remember we are all 'from' God when we choose to accept his offer of adoption.  They are not 'from God' because they have rejected God and the Word of God, Jesus Christ.  
There is probably a lot more to talk about in this passage, especially where Jesus says that those that keep his word will never see death.  So does that mean that no one since Jesus has 'kept his word' or does it mean that Jesus was wrong? Briefly, (because I thought I was talking about something else), I think Jesus is talking about a real, true or permanent death.  Or to put it in terms of an equation, for Jesus death = absence from or separation from God.  And the physical death of our bodies here on earth does not fit that category, but rather is - to quote Dumbledore, 'the next great adventure' with God.  
Okay, back to the Acts passage and the happy, fun subject of judgment.  None of us like to talk about it but Jesus certainly does and so do the pastoral letters in the New Testament.  Its there, so we probably should at least begin to wrestle with it.  In light of that I think we can look at the Acts passage and the story of Herod as a story of warning for us.  Herod is an example of a success story (until his untimely death) by his culture's - and our culture's - standards.  Herod had power, fame, wealth and influence.  In short the world was at his fingers.  But Herod let those things become his God - maybe they always were - and because of that all that he had was gone from him the moment he went to the worms.  All that he sought after and valued he lost.  
So often in our world we see people 'make it' through the wrong means or with the wrong motives (we can talk about our tendency to be judgmental later) and wonder how and why God 'lets this happen'.  But the warning from the story and life of Herod is that at some point, for each of us there is a reckoning.  And at that time of judgement how we have lived - or rather who we have lived for will matter.  And at that point, being 'from God' or not - having chosen to accept God's invitation to become part of His family - will be the difference between an eternity spent with the worms or an eternity in celebration as part of the the family of God.  
I know this is already long, but I can't not say this.  The judgment Jesus speaks of is not about a listing of our good deeds and measuring them against our 'bad' ones.  it is a simple one question hearing: did you accept Jesus Christ's sacrificial covering over the entirety of your life?  Our judgment isn't about us, it is about Jesus Christ and God's love for us shown in and through Christ's sacrifice.  
Judge for yourself, whether it is better to stand with Christ or to stand alone.


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