The scripture texts assigned for this week seem to contain a
lot of lists. Some describe what is good, and some note what
is not good. If you are a list person, you might be tempted to
turn any one of these passages into a sort of holy checklist of
“to-do” items. Commentators warn us against doing this. Rather
than lists, these are a series of descriptions pointing to how the
beloved community acts. They are not lists of qualifications for
belonging. As today’s reading points out—the work of God in
Christ Jesus is what qualifies those who are being saved.
That being said, it is tempting to read these as a list. I have
a love-hate relationship with lists. I make them to help me
remember various things; sometimes I even follow them. When
I check over a list, I gain a sense of accomplishment from what
I’ve completed and I may be prompted to act on some remaining
items. So far, so good. However if a list (or in this case, a
description) turns into an indictment for the uncompleted work
and stops me from pressing on, it is not helpful. At all.
This week we will be looking for descriptions of who we
are becoming in Christ, as faithful followers and as a community.
We will find some things that need attention, and we will
find some areas in which we can see and claim God’s work.
As we study and reflect let us keep in mind that it is God who
invites us on the journey and it is God who qualifies us, not our
wisdom or our own efforts.
Paul lists the criteria God has used for this qualification:
“God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God
chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose
what is low and despised in the world . . . so that no one might
boast in the presence of God.”
As I am being saved, O Lord, teach me again to rely on Christ. Give me a new vision of your completed work of salvation. May I respond anew to your amazing, self-giving love. Amen.
The four texts for this Sunday join in warning the people of God that they should not be confused or intimidated by appearances or by how the larger society values this or that. A faithful hearing and responsiveness to the God of the Bible may not fare so well or look so good in terms of the world’s standards of judgment. But what is required and blessed is a community ordered according to the covenantal commitments, shaped by God’s gracious promises, and attuned to what Paul called the “foolishness” and “weakness” of God.
• Read Micah 6:1-8. When have you sensed God’s anguish over human injustice?
• Read Psalm 15. Where do you need to speak truth from the heart, do what is right, be without blame, or be reconciled?
• Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. How have my limited expecta- tions of how God works caused me to miss God’s action in my life or the lives of others?
• Read Matthew 5:1-12. Which of the Beatitudes do you feel most blessed by? Which best describes your life of faith?
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