entrusting ourselves to God

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Abram took his wife Sarai and his brother’s son Lot and all the possessions that they had gathered and the persons whom they had acquired in Haran, and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan. When they had come to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. From there he moved on to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east, and there he built an altar to the LORD and invoked the name of the LORD. And Abram journeyed on by stages toward the Negeb.

Genesis 12:1-9; NRSVue

The story of the faith of Abraham begins here. Often the emphasis is put on the passage in Genesis 15 when God takes Abraham out into the night sky and asks him to count the stars, which then must have been magnificent in all their stellar wonder. Then telling “Abram” at the time (as here), “So shall your descendants be.” Then Abraham believing God’s word, and God reckoning it to Abraham as righteousness. And of course the other, Abraham’s willingness to follow through on God’s word to sacrifice his son Isaac. Both are talked about in the New Testament. And often there’s an emphasis on the first in the idea that it’s our faith alone that justifies, but we get some seeming push back from James who insists that works must follow for faith to be authentic, pointing to Abraham’s willing sacrifice of his son.

All of this needs to be considered in the entire narrative we find in the Hebrew Bible/ Christian Old Testament. And we find there a story of a human just like us, yes surely gifted in some good ways like we are too, but also not having everything together, and his life along with his wife Sarai (later, Sarah) unavoidably open for misunderstanding and false judgment from others, and as it turns out unavoidably needing the miraculous blessing of God. Everything about their experience cried out as contradictory to God’s initial and ongoing promise as spelled out right at the start in the passage above. It ended up being a matter of entrusting themselves to God. And within what turned out to be a rather long drawn out existence as strangers, even aliens, in a foreign land, but the land of promise for what would be the base of what God was going to do through Abraham and Sarah for the world.

Abraham is the father of all who believe. And this is not just a matter of believing and that’s it. It’s no less than entrusting ourselves, our lives fully into God’s hands. And involved in that is always the idea that this concerns all of life. I don’t entrust myself to God and then go and do whatever. We entrust ourselves to God so that we might live in the will of God, a different life entirely than what we would live otherwise. Nothing less than that.

your doctrine doesn’t matter (or maybe it does) compared to your life

All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged in accordance with the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight but the doers of the law who will be justified. When gentiles, who do not possess the law, by nature do what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, as their own conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them on the day when, according to my gospel, God through Christ Jesus judges the secret thoughts of all.

But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast of your relation to God and know his will and determine what really matters because you are instructed in the law, and if you are sure that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth, you, then, who teach others, will you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who forbid adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by your transgression of the law? For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the gentiles because of you.”

Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you are a transgressor of the law your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So, if the uncircumcised keep the requirements of the law, will not their uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then the physically uncircumcised person who keeps the law will judge you who, though having the written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law. For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision something external and physical. Rather, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not the written code. Such a person receives praise not from humans but from God.

Romans 2:12-29; NRSVue

No slave can serve two masters, for a slave will either hate the one and love the other or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him. So he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts, for what is prized by humans is an abomination in the sight of God.”

Luke 16:13-15; NRSVue

Paul does not downplay correct teaching or as it’s called, doctrine. All is about or connected to the good news in Christ. And Jesus’s teaching is a core part of the meaning of the coming of God’s good news and rule, though it’s often downplayed or ignored today. I for one believe that many who don’t know the name of Christ are in, while many who do profess that name may be sadly out. What I’m trying to say is that what we hold to in our understandings, be they religious or otherwise is actually less important than how we live. How we live ought to affect our thinking so that we would be open to someone who lived, taught, indeed died like Jesus did.

The common “turn or burn” teaching is basically your ticket, or as someone said, barcode to heaven if only you will believe. But just what are we hearing from those teachers? And I mean all of it. Perhaps their teaching like the religious leaders of old ends up being suspect. Why? Because their lives are suspect. And just perhaps that’s little if at all realized since after all, they have their religion or Bible understanding in order. But even if the teaching might be in apple pie order, does what follows give the lie to it?

Give me an atheist anytime who actually expresses concern for others, and attempts to live it out, and I’m sure Jesus would say that they’re not far from the kingdom of God. But take a professing Christian who gives little thought to any of that except to be assured of their eternal life while embracing values antithetical to Jesus’s life and teaching, and you have another story. Yes, well meaning people consign multitudes to everlasting torment whose lives might actually show more grace, and often do, than many of the former.

Regardless of the accuracy of what I say here, I think the point stands. It’s our lives that matter now and in the end. Christ is the fulfillment of what life is meant to be, how it’s to be lived. Emphasis on correct doctrine enters into what James warns is deceptive. Do it, or sadly, perish (or, it will be a hard row to hoe).

the spiritual battle in which we’re in is down to earth

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power; put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil, for our struggle is not against blood and flesh but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on the evil day and, having prevailed against everything, to stand firm. Stand, therefore, and belt your waist with truth and put on the breastplate of righteousness and lace up your sandals in preparation for the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.

Ephesians 6:10-20; NRSVue

In case we haven’t received notice, we’re in a spiritual battle whether we realize it or not. This battle, while spiritual definitely has ramifications on the ground. It addresses principalities and powers which not only engage persons, but systems. At the heart of it is Christ and the gospel of Christ, which actually is what the whole armor of God is tied to. God gives strength to that end. And that good news is about freeing all who are in bondage, the bondage of sin, and also giving the freedom to follow Christ in this world.

Any system which is not of this good news in Christ, not tied to or a part of God’s kingdom and rule in Christ is suspect. In fact systems which seek to impose standards of virtue and goodness and mark characteristics that are not supposedly good, short of working at stopping violence, are worse than suspect. They are indeed part of the problem, oftentimes with religion backing them, in our own context: church and state.

We have nothing to fear in Christ, in the good news in him. It will prevail after all else has failed or has been judged in the end for what it actually is. We are together in this, it’s not only an individual, daily matter, not even primarily, though it does include that. This directive is addressed to the church, very much for today, yes on the ground, down to earth where we live. God’s victory in Christ ultimately the winner.

differences in biblical interpretation and understanding

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15; NRSVue

I take the words above to be pertaining to the explanation of Scripture itself. To do one’s best to be approved by God takes work. And the goal seems to be the right explanation of the word of truth. The person of God to whom this applies needs to take the particular scripture into account in context, along with all of Scripture, and see it in the light of the present time and circumstances. What might be taught and emphasized one year won’t be what is taught and emphasized the next time the given passage is proclaimed, at least not precisely. While the gospel doesn’t change, the word needed in season will.

I personally don’t think one should be that concerned with differences in understanding the meaning of a passage from Scripture. Even in the same church gathering, there will be differences and questions which might remain unresolved when all is said and done. The same scripture passage can bring a number of diverse insights, maybe seeming on the surface to contradict when actually this helps us see the depths that Scripture has, with all the fresh insights the same passage can give us again and again over time.

So on the one hand while we likely shouldn’t get too overworked about the differences in understanding, at the same time we should strive for a correct explanation of a scriptural passage for a certain place and time, being willing to call out what is off track as far as the good news and teaching of Christ is concerned. And being willing to receive correction ourselves. But trusting that God will help us, the person to whom this work is entrusted along with those who listen to have the needed discernment to understand and apply it to life.

do nothing half way

Whatever task you must do, work as if your soul depends on it, as for the Lord and not for humans, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ.

Colossians 3:23-24

I realize that this is taken out of what is called household codes, “Rules for Christian Households” in the NRSVue. And strangely enough, a part of those households were the masters and slaves. That is a whole different topic. As I recall it, nearly half of the Roman empire at that time were slaves. While it was different than American history, which is substantially worse, still slavery was slavery. We have to remember that Christians used these passages to defend slavery in the United States. While I believe that’s ultimately a rejection of the gospel of Christ, that’s not the topic for today.

But it does seems strange, doesn’t it, to pull a passage out for application that was originally meant for slaves? That’s called proof texting, which too often misses the point of the passage turning it into a “precious promise” which might actually not apply at all. But I will attempt to do something of the sort in a way which makes sense and is appropriate for us now.

Most of us, probably the few who see this post are not actual slaves, though we may feel like we are at times. Getting up in the morning to work a long and hard job, maybe two jobs, with the pay not much beyond what we need for housing and all the rest. There actually is a systemic disorder in this, and it’s all the more if you’re a person of color, usually especially so when you’re black.

Any of us in looking at this passage, has to consider it well in its original context. We might say, even when life is unfair, and all of us run into that at times, we’re to keep doing whatever task we have to do, the very best we can, that it should be done well. And as the passage tells us, as if our souls, or life, maybe well being depends on it. That is still difficult for me, given the context.

But I might say that if those in difficult, tight, and really unjust spaces are to do this, how much more those of us who have much more freedom and latitude. At the same time, isn’t it the case that we’re all rather subservient to a system which is mixed at best in its treatment of us all? Whatever may be the case in all of this, I want to make the point that we’re to do nothing half way. If anything is worth doing, it should be done well, completely. And we may particularly need to hear this when life seems unfair and unjust.

But Paul ratchets it up to another level entirely. It is not just for humans or even for ourselves, but for the Lord. That is really the sole reason that we’ll never do anything half way. Yes, we want to earn a living for our family or support ourselves. And we want to help others. But what will give us the necessary impetus from our end will be this basic commitment to Christ through which comes the wholehearted devotion needed to do the work well and right, the very best we can. Not perfect, since only God can do that, but to give it our all. That is what we’re called to as followers, yes even slaves of Christ.

another earthquake to kill 20,000 more people (and counting), and don’t forget the war, etc.

There was once a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job.

Job 1:1a

I would like to camp in the book of Job for like a year. Actually if I could become quite a number of people at the same time, I would choose to stay put in various places in Scripture, including the Apocrypha, and just take it in and remain there. Other places too, like in nature. Listening to music, I’ve begun to see the value of just playing the same album day after day, say of piano pieces of Brahms or whatever, instead of just listening to it, and going on to the next.

Job is a wisdom story. There’s no way in my view that it actually happened. It certainly puts God in a disastrous light at the beginning. But it teaches us wisdom. An  important part of that is just the sheer and complete utter unhelpful conventional “orthodox” ways of helping Job dished out to him by his friends. Job couldn’t stomach any of it, not helpful in the least, but quite the contrary, off the mark.

But God finally answers, initially rebukes Job, and then goes on to talk about creation, and if we really can’t fathom its depths, just how can we fathom the depths of the person who created it all. In the end Job is left speechless. It ends up being quite beyond us.

While I believe there are good answers from a God that is good and that all will be good in the end, and yes, I really do believe that, nevertheless there are many many things in this life which can shake us to the core and leave us not only empty, but deeply unsatisfied.

Yes, the book of Job is good, so much depth. Just like all of Scripture we do well to remain there for a time. We should consider it well and camp there, but ultimately we turn to Jesus, God’s revelation in him, Jesus the Word of God. If God became human and died for all to bring life in the love of God, then God will see to it that each and everyone of humankind is taken care of.

But even so, that does not answer the loss of children and others (even cats and dogs, I’ll add horses for my wife, etc.) in tragedies and illnesses. We do well to, unlike Job’s friends, keep our mouths tightly shut while being present, and in the end along with Job not think we have the answer needed.

In the meantime we want to do all we can, somehow enter into the suffering of all through prayers and good works such as sending support to those in need. And while we marvel at the good we find now, we look forward to the Day when once and for all and forever, the great healing will come, and all will be well.

scripture and science

The heavens are telling the glory of God,
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth
and their words to the end of the world.

In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens
and its circuit to the end of them,
and nothing is hid from its heat.

The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the decrees of the LORD are sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
the ordinances of the LORD are true
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.

Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
But who can detect one’s own errors?
Clear me from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from the insolent;
do not let them have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless
and innocent of great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 19

In the Christian tradition scripture is central in the formation of faith. I take it that all of Scripture is sacred and inspired in helping us encounter God through the Word of God who is Christ. That is essentially what Scripture is about. It is infallible, complete and perfect only to that end, nothing more. It is what it is, and to be read as what it is, the fulfillment and ultimate heartbeat found in Jesus Christ and the good news in him.

Science is a human endeavor which is basically about the study of the natural world, of nature, creation. It is good insofar as it goes, but inherently limited and never a closed book. Yet as we see in our modern world, through it much good comes such as in medicine and almost anywhere else you look. And we have to acknowledge along with the great potential for good, the great potential for evil, as well.

What Scripture is about is not at all threatened by science, and what science is about is not at all threatened by Scripture. When we fall into either concern, we are as it were like trying to mix oil and water. They don’t mix. Scripture is not anti-scientific, nor is science anti-scriptural. While they’re not opposed to the other, neither are they supporting the other, either. They are equally good for what they are in their true categories.

And so we can without fear appreciate all true science, while without fear we appreciate all of Scripture.

the final healing

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month, and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true, for the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”

“See, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

Revelation 22:1-7

Healing and salvation in Scripture are essentially one and the same. Yes, salvation involves a number of things, but in the New Testament the word σῴζω, translated “save” is also translated “heal.” That seems suggestive to me that salvation and healing go hand in hand. What I don’t mean is that everyone physically healed by Jesus was also forgiven of their sins, though we do find that pairing in the gospel, Jesus-healing accounts, as well as in James. What I do mean is that healing is a kind of salvation and salvation is a kind of healing. If when one is physically healed they experience a saving work, certainly healing in a total final sense is saving, and salvation in a total final sense is healing.

Who of us doesn’t need healing of one kind or another? While healing in Scripture primarily refers to physical healing, and that should never be belittled, it certainly refers to the totality of all creation, of each person through and through, and to creation as a whole. The leaves of the tree of life in the passage above referring to when God brings God’s will entirely to pass are said to be for the healing of the nations. God is not only concerned about personal healing, but also about corporate healing, healing in relationships. Healing is about making whole, bringing together what has been broken. There are relationships in this life which either can’t be restored for this or that reason, or are limited in such restoration. I would like to think that the church is a place where ideally, people experience a substantial healing which enables them to continue on in relationship with one another.

Whether you are married, in family, in close relationships with friends, or in the church, we all fail along the way so that there needs to be ongoing repentance, forgiveness and healing. That’s a given. There has to be a commitment to the Lord and to each other to live in whole relationships with each other. Cracks and even some brokenness are inevitable in all such relationships, but in Christ these can and must always be tended to wisely, not in some prescribed way, but according to each situation considering the people involved. We’re all to accept responsibility in this.

To the world at large, healing is important as well. Old grievances from past evils are perpetuated in cycles of violence: tit for tat, back and forth. But what God brings in Christ and Christ’s rule is an end to that. I admire the hard work of Christians who have sought to help warring factions come to an end in their conflict, but not just ending violence, but working through the difficult terrain of arriving to a mutual healing and wholeness that ultimately is meant to bring such factions together. Such is the intent of the gospel of Christ in its reconciling work.

Total healing not only can, but indeed does seem illusory, and as death reminds us, is not possible in this life. But through Christ it can begin now with each other and in our own lives. The power of salvation for the healing of the most broken relationships. A part of the gospel’s work now, to be completed.

does God really make a difference?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

Oftentimes the religious or what many of us would call faith experience is chalked up to mere psychology. It’s thought that in the evolutionary process somehow humankind came up with the idea of a superior being or beings and the Supreme Being which helped them cope in what ends up being nothing more than a material world. That their idea of spiritual was fanciful but helpful in some ways, but ending up being quite harmful in many other way, indicative in all the violence and destruction perpetuated in the name of religion, yes, even in the name of Christ.

I have no doubt that somehow in the evolutionary process something like this may indeed have happened. This seems pretty evident, or at least a strong possibility from what we can piece together from archaeology and probably other disciplines as well. But what if something beyond psychology is involved in this?

When I do what is told to do from the above passage in Philippians, is the peace that comes merely some psychological reaction from the myth of a God who makes a difference? Maybe, but based on fairly long experience now, I doubt it. And this doubt is not based only on experience but also on the tradition of Scripture given to us, and the witness of many. Admittedly it is based on faith and mysticism, but I find it as real as anything else in life, and somehow both transcendent while fully immanent in the sense of being present in down to earth, helpful ways, or at least that ought to be a part of the thought.

Why is it considered amazing that there’s more to everything than just nature? Even if science could get to what preceded the Big Bang, and I don’t doubt that it might, that in no way addresses the question of God. That is forever outside of science’s realm, even as any scientist would have to admit. Although what continues to unfold makes what science is observing more and more astounding, and less and less explainable, which might be taken as a clue.

All that said, in reality faith won’t be helped by that, but only by Christ, looking to Christ. I do agree with C.S. Lewis that when people in sincerity live in the light they have, that God honors that. But even though they may not know it, it is always and forever through Christ, who is the way to the Father. That is why if I were serving in hospice or in a chaplaincy and helping people near death, I would not try to get them converted to my faith. I certainly would pray for them, and be ready to pray with them. I would want to be fully present with them, and in so doing trust that Christ’s presence is with us.

But back to the question of this post. What difference does God really make? I believe without a shadow of a doubt, all the difference in the world. Yes, all the difference. We’re talking about night and day, light and darkness, from the edge leaning toward the abyss to the full light of day. Something like all of that. And what difference does God make? What we read in Scripture from cover to cover, and especially about Christ points us to what difference is intended. The God who made this astounding, wonderful, precarious world can and promises to remake, make all things new. That is the hope as in promise that we can begin to experience fully even as our experience is what it is, yes- in this life.

God does make the difference needed, but something we have to try to apply to all the broken places in this world. Opposed to all even in any religion that is opposed to the way of Christ. With the conviction that whatever good God does even through us now is somehow more than just a sign for the good world to come in Christ.

what does true Christian compassion in the United States and elsewhere look like?

These are the words of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. This was after King Jeconiah and the queen mother, the court officials, the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the artisans, and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem. The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah son of Shaphan and Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom King Zedekiah of Judah sent to Babylon to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. It said: Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let the prophets and the diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to your dreams that you dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, says the LORD.

Jeremiah 29:1-9

We in Christ are exiles in this present world. We’re scattered all over the earth, and like what follows after this passage, we await God’s visitation, the return of Jesus Christ to bring God’s promises into complete, final fulfillment. In the meantime, again we live as strangers and exiles in whatever nation we live.

God told God’s people through Jeremiah in days of old to settle down and live faithfully in Babylon. We see Daniel doing the same thing. It’s interesting that they were not called to make the worship of God the law of the land in Babylon. They were simply to be faithful to God regardless of what was happening in the world. Yes, it was judgment, but mercy too. But they were to live out their faith in a foreign land. Remember Daniel’s example? Daniel didn’t try to convert Babylonians, but his example spoke volumes.

Fast-forward to today where I live in the United States. Christians are known here for wanting to take over the levers of power everywhere and not just push hard their agenda, but force and enforce it on others. Not at all anything like what we read about in Jeremiah 29. It leaves me wondering many things, and simply strongly disagreeing on many things more. But one question I might ask is simply this: Where is compassion in all of this, and specifically, Christ’s compassion which we’re called to bring and to be to others?

It seems like we want the same thing the Jews of old wanted. No exile, God’s visitation now, and everything just as we think it ought to be. But if you take Scripture seriously, we all know that only at Christ’s return will that begin to take place. In the meantime, what should we do now?

God’s people are the church together and in different places. We’re to show compassion in thoughtful, discerning ways, not only by handouts, but trying to understand the big picture, and what can be done to get rid of injustice in society, both individual, and especially systemic. Both. We have to keep working on that, because really the problem can be us, or at least we’re not apart from the problem. That is all a part of this, whether we like it or not. And we honestly ought to, because if the Christian life is anything at all, isn’t it a life of ongoing repentance?

The gospel is the power of God for salvation, not state power. That salvation is for individuals, yes, but also it should enable us to encourage the best for the nation-state in which we live. And to be relaxed within our pluralistic world, even as Israel was to live in the Babylonian world. Finding the good in it, and being an influence for good through Christ, being good and human.

Power politics and forcing and enforcing our way is not God’s way. At least not as evident in Jeremiah 29 and the gospels and what follows.