Friday, November 18, 2016

To Our Advantage

Today's reflection on the Daily Texts:

O Lord, I am oppressed; be my security! - Isaiah 38:14

The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. - Romans 8:26

Two-year reading texts: Psalm 129; 1 Kings 11:26-12:24; John 16:5-16

One of the remarkable things about the Bible is how it reflects timeless human nature and human experiences. Technology and culture and communication have changed, but we're still the same kind of people with the same kinds of problems. Through all five of today's scriptures, there's a theme of conflict and insecurity. Life has been good, but now it's not. Enemies are close at hand. Familiar supports are going away. The future is coming with new, confusing challenges.

In situations like these, God has always promised to be our security and hope. It's when we turn away from God toward other comforts that things trend to the worst. And there are times when we realize we've made this mistake, and consequences have to come, and we just have to live with them.

But with Jesus, the story doesn't end there. In John 16, in his farewell talk with his disciples, he says that it's to our advantage that he goes away, because that means that the Holy Spirit can come next. What seems like the end to Jesus' followers is also the beginning of something new. In a short time, the Spirit will be breathed into them. The rest of the New Testament is a witness to the power of the Spirit to gather, inspire, strengthen, guide, and propel the work of Jesus' followers in the world. And this is still the age we live in now.

Many of us are facing challenges these days. But life, even life with God, has always been this way. Sometimes we live with the impact of decisions we've made for ourselves; sometimes the cycles of power in the world just bring changes crashing to our door. Whatever the cause, whatever the details, God is our security and hope. As followers of Jesus, marked with his name and his cross, clinging to him in faith, we have the advantage of God's own Holy Spirit. Even when we don't have a clue what to do next, the Spirit intercedes. May we trust, and listen, and be filled up and sent out by the Spirit. May God's ultimate vision for love and peace and hope and joy come about. May we appreciate the privilege, the advantage, of the gift of the Holy Spirit working through us toward that end.

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