Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Challenge Continues, Day 160: II Chron 29-31; Psalm 130; I Corinthians 5

Confront your rot....
It is one thing to look at the world and lament how far it has fallen away from fidelity to God and to God's love for creation. It isn't difficult to stand apart from the word "out there" and judge it wanting. Easy enough to accomplish that, right? You and I can make a list of what is wrong with the world, with the church and even with the people who are not "us." It is harder, much harder, for us to turn that discerning eye on ourselves. It is not an easy thing to confront our own rot.

Hezekiah is one of those kings with whom I confess to a certain fascination. The scripture does not offer any distinguishing virtue in his appearance or character. There is no prophet or person of God goading him into his choice of path. Yet, as he comes to the throne, his zeal and passion are revealed as being focussed on the restoration not only of the physical temple of God in Jerusalem, but of the people of Judah and Israel...all the tribes. His call for the restoration of the temple, its worship and his invitation to the people of God to join him in what was purportedly the first Passover observance in a very long time is remarkable. After decades of departure from the Law by his predecessors and in the midst of a kingdom and a society divided by feuds, conflicts and war, he is the monarch who actually does what the monarchs of Israel are consecrated for in the first place: he falls to his knees in the nexus between God and the people and prays for them. He models and supports with his resources the correction of the practices of the nation. He confronts the rot in himself and his subjects and prays to God (and leads the people in praying to God) for forgiveness and blessings. Impressive, to say the least...and not a bit overwhelming in that he somehow is able to invite and get so many people to enter into that willingness to confront the rot.

"If you kept track of sins, Lord--my Lord, who would stand a chance?" (Psalm 130: 3)

Those words are more than a confession. They are an acknowledgment that the rot inside is is more than we can resolve ourselves...and that God will forgive us with such abandon is an incredible grace that is almost too much to compass.

Paul's attempt to incite self-correction in the people of the church in Corinth is aimed at inciting a willingness on their part to confront their own rot, and there is a lot of rot. It's not an easy process, for beyond the easily identified and condemned depravities on the surface Paul points out that a true life in Christ means being willing to dig deeper into the mucky bits inside. The apparent stuff is easily named and excised, but that is just the gateway to a deeper form of repentance and correction. It is time, says Paul, for the Corinthians to delve into and resolve the rot that has taken root in their community. Confront your rot, says Paul...look prayerfully into your life, allow God's love to help you to see where it rests inside...and then let that same love draw it up and out of you.

It isn't easy...but with simple, focussed corrections it is possible, by God's grace and with God's love guiding us that rot can be named, offered up and released. And then? Like Hezekiah's reform and its results, the congregation as a whole (as well as our own self) is healed and lifted up.

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