Read and Reflect
This musing flows out my times seeking to listen, learn and act regarding white supremacy, racism and white privilege something that has been rekindled within me following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
As you may remember/know God started me on this path in January of 2016. I believe what is currently going on is hugely messy and extremely important and that God is up to something. So those who know Jesus need to be grounded in Jesus so we can better partner with what God is doing in us, through us and in the world.
In the following musing I reflect on a passage I have been meditating on during this time to help be stay grounded within the One in whom I live, move and have my being.
During this time as I have been endeavoring to listen, learn and act there has been a passage of scripture that I happened upon, that the Spirit lead me to. It is only one verse, not a familiar verse, but one I have read before but this time it was as if this verse was written for me, for this now of my life—God’s word to me in the present moment.
I love that the word of God is alive and active—God breathed—not something to be hunted down, killed and mounted on one’s theological wall but allowed to roam, to soar, to judge, to challenge and to invite people into new/deeper places of being and becoming. Of course, when we allow God’s word to live in this way, to exist outside systems of theology, the word is no longer domesticated and its wild, untamed side comes out freeing God to speak through the words found in the scriptures in new and creative ways. This is unnerving and breathtakingly beautiful like seeing an eagle in the wild soaring, swooping, catching it prey rather than preached on a branch in a cage at the zoo.
Now let’s return to my God given passage. I have reduced it to three statements:
1) Work produced by faith
2) Labor prompted by love
3) Endurance inspired by hope
These are the phrases that I have drawn upon to form, shape and evaluate what I have been reading, listening to, sharing, doing during the time since the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and in regards to my own story/journey—Alton Sterling (#saytheirnames).
The “work” I have given myself to is a by-product, a natural outflow of my faith in Christ—a faith that must translate itself into action. Jesus makes this abundantly clear in the dividing of the sheep and goats. The intentional actions to those who in need, to those unjustly treated, were acts done to Jesus—for Jesus identifies with those individuals. There is a harsher message to those who choose not to act.
Also Jesus’ words regarding a tree being known by its fruits or his teaching on God as Gardener where he states that all the Father does is so we will produce fruit, and the words of Paul speaking about us being God’s masterpieces created in Christ to do good works. And just in case we do not get it James piles on telling us faith without deeds is useless, faith without deeds is dead. I am also reminded of the words of Jesus declaring that when others see our good works they will turn toward God. Faith leading to action is what faith is, what faith does. But one can do works that do not flow from faith which can lead to death rather then life, bondage rather than freedom so the question; what is producing my work is helpful and necessary.
Another question I ask myself; Is this “labor” I am extending my time and energy toward flowing from a love of God and love of others? What is my motivation as I pray, march, petition, email, write? Is it the love of God that is compelling me or something else, something less honorable? I know the answer will always be a combination of both but what side is the scale weighted—love/service of God and others or love/service of self, of ego?
Love of God and neighbor needs to be the fuel that burns within me or my labors may take me from God rather than flowing from the heart of God. That of course is the danger and a danger many in the Church point to justify their disdain and condemnation of social justice (Gospel justice).
Finally, am I depending on the hope of God that does not disappoint to give me the endurance I need to keep on keeping on rather than endeavoring to grind it out by my own power, drawing upon my own fortitude. Unless I have a hope that transcends the immediate yet also informs and shapes the now sooner or later I will crash, burnout, flameout. My hope is in God, flowing from God to me. This hope is birthed from the belief in the goodness, graciousness and mercy of God and that in the end love wins. This hope helps me to hang in there when I get weary, when others lash out, questions my motives, my faith, my love of God, the time and energy I am giving to this movement, those I am choosing to walk alongside of, listen to, learn from. This hope calls me back to the beatitudes, the Sermon on the Mount;
Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
and also so bitterness does not take root within my heart—
“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
In closing I want to say; God is up to something, a moment is becoming a movement but at such a time it is easy to lose sight of God, to get distracted, to grow weary in doing good and lose heart.
We, I, need to stay grounded in God, making sure are work is at outflow of our faith in the God who is with us, the God who desires justice, that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven—that our labor is an outflow of the love of God that God has poured within our heart, a love that must be expressed, a transforming-sustaining-wooing-justice-seeking love—that the hope I have in the person and work of Jesus will help me to endure, to push through, to get up yet again, to take another step forward, fight another day, trusting the person and power of God who can do beyond anything I can think, ask or imagine.
May these words help you to do the works God has prepared for you to do—works that bring forth justice, freedom—sight to the blind, release to the oppressed—so that you are salt, light and living Jesus each day.
1. What works are currently being produced by faith through you?
2. What labor is being prompted by love?
3. How is your hope producing endurance, trust in God and thus eradicating your fears and anxiety so you are able to keep your eyes on Jesus?
4. How is God leading you to be salt and light, to partner with God so God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven?
OH! Here is a Haiku I wrote using this passage.
1 Thes 1:3
faith producing works
love prompting self-sacrifice
hope rousing resolve
Below are the scriptures I drew from as I wrote this musing in the order they appear.
Heb 4:12, I Thes 1:3, Mt 25:35-40, Mt 7:16-20, Jn 15:1-2, Eph 2:10, James 2:20 &26, Mt 5:11, Lk 6:27, 28; Gal 6:9, Lk 4:18-19, Mt 5:14-16.
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