Aug 31, 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.
Well, it feels like we're snowed in one more day in Central Texas. The coronavirus seems to make it feel like that, anyway. People are staying indoors a lot more than they used to. But folks are learning to get around a little better with social distancing. Schools opened in many areas with varying degrees of success – some with masks, some without, some online, and some hybrid in-person and online. These are strange times, indeed.
At least in San Antonio, our hospital census continues to drop from COVID-19 cases. The danger stays with us, and we can expect another spike with school starting, but we hope trends continue with kids less susceptible to the disease. Then with good hygiene practices, we hope families can keep it from spreading from the schools to their homes. We will soon see.
Of course, fall and winter are almost here, with the expectation of a second wave of the virus. Scientists talk about a vaccine, but getting one in 12 to 18 months when they usually take 11 to 14 years to pass FDA standards makes one a little leery of what might come out of the laboratories. How effective will they be, and what side effects will they have that are unknown after just a few months of testing?
The pandemic in this country seems like the good news right now. The thing that fills the headlines everyday concerns the politics of the riots and upcoming elections. What's suddenly different about the post office that delivery might be delayed by weeks? Why do they need to $25 billion when they asked for $2.5 billion, and their profits and cash flow have been positive for the last five years? But since the newscasts tell us they can't deliver the mail, it must be true, despite their balance sheet figures and their ability to fill my box with enough junk mail to fill my 70-gallon recycle bin every week.
I mentioned last week, we need to stop listening to the news and social media and do our homework. This is one of those areas. Find the numbers and the statistics about the Postal Service testimonies that go to the Government Accounting Office, not the questions that make it to C-SPAN, and you'll see an interesting picture. It's also interesting to read the Congressional Budget. That's the legislative branch that spends our money. Talk about fascinating reading! It is unbelievable where taxes go every year.
Enough about that. Time to turn toward the words that hit me from the lectionary this week. Paul wrote to Christians in Rome to talk about how they should act living in that pagan city. The church felt heavy persecution. The Roman government wanted to destroy mystic religions, defined as those worshipers did not bow to idols crafted for their gods. Any invisible god was no god to them. Christians and Jews were particularly singled out as atheists because they believed in a single god. How could one God control the world? It required pleasing a pantheon of gods to make sure things progressed correctly.
Paul had this to say in Romans chapter 12:
9 Love must be real. Hate what is evil, stick fast to what is good. 10 Be truly affectionate in showing love for one another; compete with each other in giving mutual respect. 11 Don't get tired of working hard. Be on fire with the spirit. Work as slaves for the Lord. 12 Celebrate your hope; be patient in suffering; give constant energy to prayer; 13 contribute to the needs of God's people; make sure you are hospitable to strangers.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless them, don't curse them. 15 Celebrate with those who are celebrating, mourn with the mourners. 16 Come to the same mind with one another. Don't give yourselves airs, but associate with the humble. Don't get too clever for yourselves.
17 Never repay anyone evil for evil; think through what will seem good to everyone who is watching. 18 If it's possible, as far as you can, live at peace with all people. 19 Don't take revenge, my dear people, but allow God's anger room to work. The Bible says, after all, 'Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says the Lord.' 20 No: 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. If you do this, you will pile up burning coals on his head.' 21 Don't let evil conquer you. Rather, conquer evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21 NTE)
The emperor didn't know what to do with that. How do you persecute people who are feeding the poor, the widows, and orphans? How do you get the populace to turn against individuals who refuse to fight back when attacked? How do you get a Roman soldier to think it okay to run a spear through a mother who gives him a blessing as he does so?
Love wins. Unfortunately, what we see in social media and on the streets of our cities today is not love. We see a lot of hate. The riots, violence, destruction, disregard for human life in our major cities, says we don't care about each other. And too often I see some of those actions coming from people who call themselves Christians. I am not God, but I expect many of those will be among that crowd. Jesus turns away and says, "I never knew you."
And they will say, "But didn't we bomb abortion clinics in your name? Didn't we face the mob in your name? Didn't we defend our rights in your name? Didn't we stand up for our laws in your name? Didn't we march in the streets for your name? Didn't we scream at midnight as the voice for the voiceless in your name? Didn't we try to right injustice in your name? Didn't we try to rid the world of socialism in your name? Didn't we try to swing the vote right or left in your name? Didn't we…?"
And he will retort, "Sorry, I never knew you. You might have used my name, but my name means grace, mercy, love, forgiveness, just as I showed you. You never showed those characteristics in your zeal for what was right in your own eyes. Now I stand in judgment. I never knew you. Turn aside."
It doesn't matter which side of the issue you support. Going about solving it in unchristian ways still results in unchristian behavior and brings consequences. Paul tells us to love. Replace evil with good. In fact, he says to go further than that. He says if your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. Let God be your avenger. He will do a much better job in the end, anyway. His justice is perfect. Ours is not.
So, here is your homework. It might be really boring, but it is really important. You will hear about some crisis happening in the government today or tomorrow that is about to make some department collapse. Don't listen to any news reporter or pundit talk about it. Instead, go to the official reports of that department, the one they must give to Congress and the Budget Office. Not their talking notes, but their report that goes into the record. Take the time to read it. See what about their numbers say. You'll probably find that both sides take pieces out of the report to fit their agenda. They will use one chart or one graph to make their point, whether representative of the whole report or not.
Fake news? Yep. Both sides of the fence. That's why this year, more than any before, we have to do our homework for every candidate. Know who they are and what they stand for. Find the one who demonstrates love for their enemies, who returns good for evil. That's the person you want. But don't trust the media's take on who that person is. Find out for yourself. Do your homework. And while you're at it, pour a little good on your neighborhood.
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.