When it comes to the inconsequential, we can easily admit that we’re wrong. For example, I am comfortable saying I was wrong to think guacamole tasted bad just because it looked funny. The more important the issue, however, the harder it is to confess failure. To do so requires a fight against strong internal forces like fear and pride.
When we look at scripture’s offer of salvation, it begins and ends with God, but it must include our admitting to the greatest failure of them all: We are sinners who have broken the relationship that matters the most!
It is easier for me, as someone who was raised in the church and who is now a pastor, to accept the label of “sinner.” I have been familiar with it my whole life; I have personally experienced God’s grace and mercy; I now teach and preach about forgiveness regularly. But what does today’s passage sound like to someone who has yet to come to faith?
Even understanding God as loving and merciful, the idea of turning our lives over to an all-powerful being and admitting that we have been wrong about something this important is intimidating. Fear and pride thrive in situations like this. Accepting that we need saving requires a belief in God’s judgment, which is certainly an uncomfortable concept.
We tend to forget what it is like not to be Christian. We say that becoming a Christian is the most significant decision we have ever made, but we forget how scary that can sound. As we read this passage tomorrow, with its beautiful call to evangelism, let us remember that Jesus had great understanding for those who found faith difficult and experienced frustration with those who thought they had it all figured out.
God, give us compassion for those who have reservations about faith. Help us not judge but rather embody your patience and love. Amen.
The Genesis text begins the story of Joseph. Things would have turned out very different for Joseph (and for Israel) had it not been for the watchful care of the One who called Israel into being. Psalm 105 brie y recites the saving events in Israel’s life, and this week’s portion remembers the story of Joseph, stressing both the hiddenness and the crucial significance of God’s mercy. In Romans 10 note the manner in which Paul brings the past to bear on the present in terms of God’s saving activity. Notice also Paul’s insistence on the universal availability of salvation. The Gospel lesson of Jesus stilling the storm points to the inexplicable wonder of God’s redeeming love, which can be appropriated and answered only in doxology.
• Read Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28. The writer says, “Not all the challenges we face are a divine plan.” Do you agree or disagree? Why?
• Read Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b. How well does your memory serve you in times of distress to recall God’s presence and past action?• Read Romans 10:5-15. In what situations have you chosen to rely on God?
• Read Matthew 14:22-33. The writer says that comfort and safety should not be our “primary criteria when discerning and acting on God’s will.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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