Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Challenge Continues, Day 317: Amos 4; Psalm 110; Matthew 12

Winning...or, the Joy of Being Right
We are people of faith, at least we hope that we are people of faith. In that, we try to make a habit of looking to God to set the tone and scope of life in community. In the time of the Sinai Covenant, and in the subsequent revivals in which the people rediscovered the Torah, the code by which God is made known to Israel and Israel is made known to God, the rules of encounter with the holy and with each other were proscribed. We had something in our hand that told us what to do, and what not to do, if we wished to walk with God on the pathways of righteousness. Choosing to practice this way meant life. It meant accepting an invitation into a primary relationship with the Most High, the Lord of Hosts. It meant prosperity, hope.

It meant being possessed of a sense of being in the right place, in the right way.

It also meant being subject to the temptation of assuming that being in the right way means being right. That being right means we are somehow above others, special. That the joy of being right means that we are on the winning team...and that means that everyone who isn't on the winning team is, well, on the outs.

Israel and Judah from time to time (and ALL of us, as well) found assurance in the preservation of the rules, assuming that if we kept them then God would be happy. They miss the demonstrable evidence that the "rules" as God expresses them are just the baseline of life with God and in community. We are also called into relationships that express justice, mercy and humility. All of these are casualties when we assume the position of being RIGHT and that being right means winning over and against others' interests and needs.

Being blessed is not about coming out on top. It is about recognizing the call to follow God in the service of those most in need, to choose the merciful act over the rules-based lifestyle, to embrace from time to time what might be seen as loss in the face of seeing another receive what is needed for life, health and hope.

Winning isn't the only thing...it's just a thing; and sometimes it takes us away from our intimacy with God and with each other.

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