Jul 20, 2020
Join us as we explore God’s ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.
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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
The headlines haven't changed. Two things dominate our attention; the coronavirus, and the riots. Both tragic events consume us with the number of deaths created in their wake. The pandemic, we can do little about in the short term. It will ravage the world until we either build enough herd immunity from victims or a vaccine. The early rhetoric that a few weeks and it would be over have been proven false, and we seem to be in this pandemic for the long haul. Many predict at least two years, and some say five or more.
The second event does not have to continue, though. We can do something about it if we want. The problem is that, for the most part, I don't think we do. In this country, the divide grows more extensive, and we refuse to enter into reasonable debate with each other. We no longer know how to listen to each other. We yell our position in each other's faces and refuse to stop to understand the other side of an issue.
What's happening in the protests when no opportunity presents itself for a reasoned dialogue appears on our screens and in the newspapers daily. Screaming at each other. Vandalism. Burning. Riots. Violence. Innocents dying. And what is all of that accomplishing? A deeper divide between the factions. No good will come out of the continued violence happening across the nation.
I expect the majority of us agreed with the brutality involved with the arrest and death of George Floyd. How many innocent people died since then? How many more must die before we stop? In some of our major cities, the cry to defund and dismantle the police, those called to protect the citizenry, found traction. The results in each of those places where city councils chose to reduce budgets stagger us. Crime increased in staggering amounts, double and triple the number of violent crimes from just a year ago, or even just before the pandemic began.
We can blame whatever we want, but I think the real answer is found in a parable Jesus gave found in Matthew 13. His disciples asked him to explain it after he was alone with them. Here is what he said:
36 Then Jesus left the crowds and went into the house. His disciples came and joined him.
'Explain to us,' they said, 'the parable of the weeds in the field.'
37 'The one who sows the good seed,' said Jesus, 'is the son of man. 38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one; 39 the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels.
40 'So: when the weeds are gathered and burned in the fire, that's what it will be like at the close of the age. 41 The son of man will send out his angels, and they will collect together out of his kingdom everything that causes offense, and everyone who acts wickedly. 42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their father. If you have ears, then hear!' (Matthew 13:36-43 NTE)
Somewhere along the way, intermingled among us came those ready to fight at the slightest criticism or perceived wrong. Our "it's all about me" culture assumes everything said or written or created aims specifically at me. And I can interpret those words or artistry any way I choose because the world is all about me.
The world is not about any of us. God created it. It is his. He chose to create human beings with a mission in mind. From the first, he commanded us to take care of his creation. He created us to live in relationship with him and each other. (We don't do any of those things very well.) He came to live among us and show us how to do it. We hung him on a cross rather than accept what he said. Why he still loves humanity and wants to have a relationship with us, I don't understand, but he does.
Jesus told us his kingdom is near. He ushered into this world with his death and resurrection. He sent his spirit to live in us. Where he is, his kingdom reigns. So, here we are as his followers, good seed among weeds. What are we to do? What can we make of the mess going on around us?
First, recognize God still sits on his throne. Nothing happening now, in the past, or in the future surprises him. He doesn't need to confer with anyone to determine how to handle the problems. He is in control. We may not see it. We may not understand. But we can be assured God is still God and loves his children.
Second, remember Paul's words from Romans 8:
18 This is how I work it out. The sufferings we go through in the present time are not worth putting in the scale alongside the glory that is going to be unveiled for us. 19 Yes: creation itself is on tiptoe with expectation, eagerly awaiting the moment when God's children will be revealed. 20 Creation, you see, was subjected to pointless futility, not of its own volition, but because of the one who placed it in this subjection, in the hope 21 that creation itself would be freed from its slavery to decay, to enjoy the freedom that comes when God's children are glorified.
22 Let me explain. We know that the entire creation is groaning together, and going through labor pains together, up until the present time. 23 Not only so: we too, we who have the first fruits of the spirit's life within us, are groaning within ourselves, as we eagerly await our adoption, the redemption of our body. 24 We were saved, you see, in hope. But hope isn't hope if you can see it! Who hopes for what they can see? 25 But if we hope for what we don't see, we wait for it eagerly – but also patiently. (Romans 8:18-25 NTE)
The world is groaning under the problems we see today. Creation waits to be freed from the decay that began with that first act of disobedience. It is on tiptoe with expectation waiting for the harvest when the weeds will be cast away, and the wheat will be gathered. And we eagerly await our adoption, the redemption of our body. We were saved in the hope of the resurrection. All this will come to an end one day. And Paul says, "The sufferings we go through in the present are not worth putting in the scale alongside the glory that is going to be unveiled for us.
I don't know how that looks. I don't know what awaits us. I don't know what he has in store for us. But until then, we have a mission to share the good news with as many as we can. To do that, though, we must stop and listen to the story of those around us. They won't listen to our story if we are not willing to listen to theirs. But when we do, we will hear how God can work in their lives and give them the peace and joy only he can bring to them. The legacy of peace Jesus promised.
What happens next with the two major events in our headlines? I don't know. I hope God sees fit to slow the first about which we can do little. I hope we, who call ourselves followers of Christ, will listen to the stories of those not like us, and from there, share the good news that can heal our land and bring peace to our world.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible-based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.
Scriptures marked NTE are taken from the NEW TESTAMENT FOR EVERYONE: Scripture are taken from The New Testament for Everyone are copyright © Nicholas Thomas Wright 2011.