Bible Readings and Devotion for September 7 & 8, 2020
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Devotion for September 7 & 8, 2020
By Pastor David Tinker
This summer has been filled with contentious misery across our land. There has been an amplification of some of the difficult patterns of human sin. From various causes and sources here has been an intensification of hate, division, devaluation of human life. We have witnessed the spread of misinformation and lies. We have seen longtime friends break with one another. We have seen an intensification of political and social division. We have seen an increase of violence, intimidation, and vigilantism.
There are many causes of these, but that is not what I am here to debate. I am not going to point fingers, for the guilty parties are more than I can count on my fingers, and this is not about accusing one party or another.
Our readings from Luke have Jesus teaching us about how we are to respond to hatred and division among people. His statements counter much of what we, in our sin, would want to do when times get difficult. Often, we want to respond with greater anger and even violence to the bad behavior of others.
Jesus presents a different pattern for response. Here is what our Savior teaches, “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
We are so often drawn to the emotionally intense and sometimes loud or violent response to difficulty, conflict, and opposition. Sometimes we may even want to, “hit them back twice as hard and twice as many times,” as I have heard some say over my years. If God were to have taken that approach, then we would all have been dead long ago.
Taking the Jesus way in such matters is very much not easy. There is one thing which we can do which will surely help us. We can pray for the Holy Spirit of God to produce fruit in our lives. Remember the, “Fruit of the Spirit,” in Galatians 5:22-26. Here is what St. Paul teaches us, “By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
He goes on to say, “There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.”
When we face the angst and division of our current day, we are reminded to remember that Jesus has died for the forgiveness of these things. He has brought with him to the cross the fleshly passions and desires which stir us to respond to this world with increased hatred and division which depersonalize our perceived enemies. The Holy Spirit and the teachings of Jesus turn our lives toward peace and reconciliation. Initially it is a harder way, but it is the way of Jesus.
Gracious God, your Son called on you to forgive his enemies while he was suffering shame and death. Lead our enemies and us from prejudice to truth; deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen