The rest of the world can be turned on its head, but look at this Jesus! I will forever be spellbound by this story of the sacrifice of this Jesus of Nazareth. When things around the edges of Christian culture seem confusing or embarrassing and I feel myself tempted to walk away from association with those who bear His name, this image of Jesus pulls me back in awe. This Jesus, who did this, for me ... for us.
In this season of extreme refining for the people of the world, we have an opportunity to realign where we put our trust. For many of us, our temptation is to look to the very things that enslaved us for years, without looking to our Lord or even consulting Him on what to do next.
In the midst of the global suffering occurring through COVID-19, we once again find ourselves with the questions of Job and his friends. We want to know how God works, and we want simple answers for what He is doing in the world. While many of them may be found, and while the Scriptures and revelation of Jesus Christ within them offer us all we need to know about the nature of God, and lots of information about His work, there is still an element of mystery to His work in the world that we simply must accept, lest we misrepresent Him like Job's friends did, or we attempt to paint Him into a corner like Job did.
Judges is a tough read. It is supposed to be. It speaks of the season between Joshua and Samuel and shows the consequences of an apostate people determined to adopt the cruel gods of the surrounding nations. It is a bloody and difficult book. How then do we study books like this for our own personal edification? Well, there are many excellent hermeneutical tools out there which fall way beyond the scope of a small devotion, but here are some of the principles I adopt when I cannot make sense of a difficult text.
I can't help but think that we would see significantly more of God's hand moving in our life if we regularly prayed the types of prayers that Abraham's servant prayed. In a world where we are suddenly aware of the unpredictability of our days, the people of God would do well to regularly stop and pray... "Oh Lord, please come through for me today. I don't stand a chance without you. Show me what to do, and what not to do. Remind me of your steadfast love, please Lord. I need your guidance and your presence today."
In this season where we are forced into relative states of isolation, and we don't get the benefit of the crumbs falling off the faith tables of our friends, it is a great time to lean in, in faith, and to taste and see that the Lord is good, for yourself.
The Corinthians were obsessed with their spiritual leaders, while not being aware of how the Spirit could lead them!
Part of what I love about Christianity, and part of what separates it out from every other worldview is its view of the incarnation, the fact that God became flesh and lived among us. What is perhaps most astonishing about that doctrine is the historic teaching of just how God lived among us. He didn't live a celebrity life of ease and comfort, nor did He live a separated life of abstract philosophical pontification, but rather took the form of a suffering servant and entered into the thick and thistles of human suffering to experience it fully with His people.
God invited them to a season of repentance and returning that was marked by quiet and trust. Sound at all familiar? Perhaps, what we are experiencing now is an invitation to a quieting of our hearts and a returning to God in repentance and trust. What is tragic, is that Isaiah tells us that many of the people of Jerusalem missed it. Instead of quiet submission, they returned to the very sources of supposed strength that they had placed their hope in and which had kept them from God in the first place. Let us not waste this season of returning in the same way.