and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you, O Lord,
my rock and my redeemer.
2 Chronicles 14:1-16:14
King Asa of Judah cleared the land from places of false worship and demanded that the people follow the commandments of the Lord. He was also a successful military leader, fortifying the land and driving back invaders.
The chronicler tells us that Asa did what was good and right in the sight of the Lord. That's a rare description in Chronicles. Yet, he entered an alliance with Aram (Syria) against Israel.
We may be disturbed by part of the covenant they entered into (see 15:13).
In the first eight chapters of Paul's letter to the Romans, he has been talking about Gentiles, their sins deserving of God's judgment and the gift of grace offered to them through Jesus Christ. Gentiles are not subject to the law; rather, God has adopted them into the family (as Jews themselves had been earlier adopted).
Krister Stendhal, and others, assert that the climax of the letter is in chapters 9 through 11 in its discussion of the redemption of the Gentiles and the salvation of Israel (from Reinventing Paul, John G. Gager).
Paul preaches that Christians do not have to become Jews to be included in God's family. Nor do Jews have to become Christians in order to stay:
to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever (Romans 9:4-5).
The question for us moderns is whether God still has flexibility in defining family.
"Where did you see God?" our small group asks us at the beginning of each meeting. I don't think I have ever answered by quoting the first verses of Psalm 19, but I may remember to next time.
"Look at the sky," the psalmist says. "Notice that it's day. Notice that it's night. Where do you think the sun came from? Why do you think it moves?"
God has so ordered the universe that the sun rises and sets, the sun provides light and warmth for us.
If only we humans could respond affirmatively to God's intentions.
The commands of God are intended to help us live good lives, orderly lives, joyful lives.
And they are intended to help us avoid behavior that would harm us and others. God's law provides rewards and boundaries (are these always opposites?)
Although we may want to behave wisely, we may fail at times. And we live among people who don't seem to care about doing right at all. Protect us from them, and protect us from failing to live up to God's wishes for us.
God is not a cosmic bellhop, Michael Shevack & Jack Bemporad tell us in their Stupid ways, Smart ways to think about God.
Just ring the bell, and God becomes your own personal Pavlovian puppy. Eagerly He goes to work, gratifying your every desire, indulging your every whim....
And, by making God an extension of your own desires, you have made your own desires God-like. In essence, you have made yourself God. You are the center of the universe and God is at the periphery.
That hardly resembles a healthy faith. Indeed, it is more akin to cult behavior. it turns man into God. It has a very ancient name, idolatry. because the first step in any meaningful religion is to recognize our proper place in the scheme of things....
Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler;
and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
Prayer for Today: Pray Psalm 19.