Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Turning Back to God

Today's reflection on the Daily Texts:

If anyone secretly entices you - even if it is your brother, your father’s son or your mother’s son, or your own son or daughter, or the wife you embrace, or your most intimate friend - saying, "Let us go worship other gods," you must not yield to or heed any such persons. - Deuteronomy 13:6,8

If anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted. - Galatians 6:1

Two-year reading texts: Psalm 116:8-14; 1 Samuel 25:18-44; John 5:31-47

In today's scriptures, there is both Law (God's NO to something that will harm me or my relationship with God or others) and Gospel (God's YES, even though I've screwed up, God still wants to be in relationship with me). Both are gifts! Sometimes Law is thought to be a bad thing, but it performs a valuable and necessary function, acting as a boundary and barrier, making me aware that I'm headed for something hazardous. And Gospel is the partner to Law, showing how God is interested in more than just rule-following. Gospel includes an invitation back to God, Jesus Christ as the way to get back, and the Holy Spirit as inspiration and strength for the journey.

The Deuteronomy passage speaks about the first and most important commandment of the Law, to have no other gods than the one true living God. It makes me ask: what does this mean for me today? I don't have the opportunity to be tempted to worship the idols of other people, and I can't say I've ever heard anybody say the words, "Let's go worship other gods." But a "god" can be anything I turn to in times of trouble and stress. If I direct my time and energy and value and honor away from God to anything else, thinking it will give me some advantage in life, that could be a false god. If I look away from faithfulness to God, and instead seek success, praise, growth, or any other value, I'm likely to be tempted to go worship other gods. Even in terms of the work I do for God in the church, there are processes, values, books, programs, techniques, judgments that seek to lure me away from worshiping God alone.Turn

The combination of scriptures today calls me to be, and do, whatever God wants, for the most fruitful future for myself and the church I serve and God's kingdom in today's world. Even if it means dying to something else, letting go of something I value, I'm called continually back to simply following God. I'm thankful for Law that teaches me where the dangers lie and how to recognize them. And I'm thankful for Gospel that calls me to turn back when (not if, but when!) I've wandered down a wrong way. I'm thankful that the one true living God knows me and cares about me, seeks to defend my life and my relationships, and gently restores me when I need.

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