We wait patiently for the Lord.
(Adapted from Psalm 37:7a)
When we read about the ritualistic animal sacrifice, we modern Christians may feel superior to those ancient (and to our minds, totally unnecessary rituals. Maurice Harris, in his book Leviticus, You Have No Idea, presents a different viewpoint. As a rabbi, he had been discussing rituals and prayers in a Hebrew school class for 7th graders. They thought the procedures for animal sacrifices were gross or weird. Then one student burst out with the question, "Well, which do think is more moral? Doing a sacred ritual and dealing with God every single time you kill an animal for its meat, or anonymously shoving millions of animals into crowded pens and cages so that they're growing up in their own feces on factory farms, and filling the animals up with drugs that make the sick just to fatten them up some more, and the shipping them out and slaughtering them by the millions without even thinking how they feel...."
Jesus has caused such a stir that people were talking, saying that he had lost his mind. His family tried to rescue him from himself. Religious authorities accuse him of being in league with the devil.
His family wants to protect him by shutting him up. The others don't want to protect him but they do want him to shut up.
Religious people still become offended. Loving people still become protective.
The pattern of becoming offending and becoming protective can disrupt relationships between those who are satisfied with the way things are organized now and those who are convinced that those things must be changed immediately. Read Phyllis Tickle's Great Emergence. She describes the massive transformations that shake the Christian Church every 500 years.
When we are living through a time of division, how do we discern the correct path? Jesus said that we would be forgiven for our sins and blasphemies--except for blasphemies against the Holy Spirit. The New Interpreter's Bible explains this by saying: It is forgivable to wrongly judge the evil as good, but it is unforgivable to judge the good as evil.
Good rule for religious, political, and social disputes, don't you think?
Yes, bad things do happen, and, yes, bad people exist. Even if we do what we're supposed to do, we may still have to face the consequences of somebody else's doing what we don't want them to do.
This psalm counsels us on how to get through those bad times.
First, Don't let yourself be tied up in reacting to the person who is trying to hurt you.
After all, they aren't going to be able to sustain themselves forever.
Second, Instead of paying a lot of attention to the person who is trying to upset you, turn that attention to what does last, the Lord.
Paying attention to the Lord, trusting the Lord, will change us.
Vindication may take a while, but leave it up to the Lord.
Prayer for Today: Lord, help us to discern the difference between being protective and being offensive. And, Lord, help us to deal with well-meaning people who approach us with their intent to be protective but in ways we can't help but find offensive. Amen.