There Will Be Consequences
“Whatever. . . . Been there, done that. I don’t care. . . .” A jaded callous attitude seems to pervade popular culture. I wonder if what appears as cynicism may be a mask for the pain and disappointment of promises not kept, authority figures who betrayed our trust, and the duplicity and deceit of many of the institutions of government, education, business, and, yes, even religion.
The good news about judgment is that what we do matters. We are responsible to God and to creation to bear good fruit. We are held accountable for our lives. The image of the servant hunched over in the outer darkness, excluded and isolated, weeping and gnashing his teeth stands in strong contrast to the postmodern individual shrugging casually over the latest scandal, “Whatever. . . .”
Our woeful servant reminds us that things matter. Things matter a lot. When Israel repeatedly shrugs its shoulders saying, “How’s a little idolatry going to hurt anyone?” God does not reply, “What idolatry?” The truth is that each of us is important and unique. I have God-given talents the whole universe depends on my sharing. God has destined us not for wrath but for salvation through Jesus Christ.
Do not let fear impede the full release of your gifts or hobble your service to Christ. Christ’s victory on the cross destroyed the demon of fear; you can stand forgiven and reconciled. You see, there is no way you can go wrong because whatever happens, this God of ours will not say to you, “Whatever. . . .” You are loved with a love that will not let you go.
God of miracles, give me the courage to live the adventure of faith. Give me the faith that allows you to bring joy and healing through me into your creation. And thank you, amazing God, for forgiving and loving me even when my courage shrivels and my faith shrinks. Amen.
Like us, the Israelites struggle to be consistently faithful to God. God therefore allows a foreign king to rule them until the people come to their senses and cry out for help. The prophet Deborah gives instructions for the battle that will begin the deliverance of the people. The readings from Psalms and Zechariah demonstrate that this pattern of unfaithfulness and restoration has occurred frequently in the history of God’s people. In Thessalonians, Paul echoes what Jesus says in last week’s Gospel reading: We must always be prepared for the return of Christ because we do not know when it will occur. God gives us resources to use for the kingdom, and in Matthew Jesus indicates that God will ask for an account of how well we have used them.
Read Judges 4:1-7. Who has been a judge—someone who helps you discern—in your life? How can you help others discern the way?
Read Psalm 123. How do you focus on God through conflict and struggle?
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11. When have you encouraged someone in a time of darkness? When have you been the one in need of encouragement?
Read Matthew 25:14-30. What would change if you considered your dreams and desires as from God? What first step can you take to enact your desires?
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