Psalms 84; 150, Jeremiah 9:23-24, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, Mark 2:18-22
Today’s readings are about a faith-driven revolution in thought and attitude. The prophet Jeremiah spoke of love, justice, and righteousness working in opposition to wisdom, might, and wealth. He said those who boast about wringing success and power from the lives of those who suffer defy God. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote about God in Christ working through the foolish, the weak, and the despised to bring low those who “might boast in the presence of God.”
Who are these boasters? People who insist their power and wealth demonstrate how God has chosen them above others. They work to conserve the status quo not because it is just, but because it benefits them. After all, it’s easy to convince oneself the present order is just when examining that order too closely might undermine our comfortable position.
When Jesus reminded the Pharisees we can’t put unshrunk patches on old cloth, or new wine in old wineskins, he was telling them the old ways of doing and being couldn’t survive the new things God would do. The salvation story is not one of preservation; it is an epic of assumptions broken open to let in new truths and people. Salvation has a forward momentum.
So why does Christianity work so hard to stay in the past?
Tension has always existed between Christians who – like the Pharisees – are convinced the faith has nothing new to learn, and those who embrace the momentum. As a result, we have an uneven record of being on the right side of history regarding justice and inclusion. The Bible (or our current understanding of it) is not an excuse for closing our ears and minds to new and challenging things God might have to say and the people who say them.
Every revolution – industrial, political, theological – eventually becomes the calcified establishment and the corrupted empire. We forget that even conservative modern churches have evolved beyond what the earliest Christians would have accepted. The people suffering under the present circumstances are the foolish, weak, and despised whom God will use to bring the mighty low. If we use the past to justify their oppression and exploitation –particularly oppression and exploitation at the hands of the church – we ignore the future God reveals at our own peril.
Comfort: God is working in the world right now.
Challenge: Meditate on whether you cling to ideas because they are right, or because they are comfortable.
Prayer: Loving God, I will listen for your voice. Amen.
Discussion: Where do you find it challenging to balance tradition and justice?
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