Is God really so severe as our week’s passages imply? Are we shocked, even outraged, to entertain that the answer might be “Yes”? Perhaps we have domesticated the “consuming fire” of our living God (Heb. 12:29, esv) into the warmth of a space heater. God gives us extra heat when our own efforts leave our lives a bit chilly. So we may think God’s function is to help us live better the life that we have chosen for ourselves. Thus, we remain the measure of what matters. We are the autonomous who find it offensive to submit to anyone.
Jesus’ parable pretty much slaps us out of that worldview. His parable revolves around the bridegroom. The story of the world is foremost about the Triune God revealed as Creator, Redeemer, and Holy Spirit. Not us. We are not self-generated; we are created. We are not the lords of our lives; Jesus is Lord. We are not the center of reality. The fundamental human choice is whether to acknowledge moment by moment that everything begins and ends with God. God’s reality is as inflexible as gravity, as necessary as oxygen, and as dangerous and life-giving as the sun.
But Jesus doesn’t tell this or any of his other frightening parables to condemn us. He comes to save us. Scripture declares that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Ps. 111:10, esv). That’s so we can live fruitfully now and live eternally.
Over and over Jesus is an inflexible brick wall to the self-righteous who admit no need of him. Yet to the sinners and the broken he superabounds in mercy.
This week we have been called to readiness and steady, unqualified choice for God. In Jesus’ words, “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15, esv). Such a daily choice leads us to the ocean of God’s mercy.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on this sinner, and enable me to choose you wholeheartedly day by day. Amen.
Although God miraculously has brought the Israelites into the Promised Land, some continue to worship foreign gods. Joshua tells them that they must choose whom they will serve and warns of the dangers of unfaithfulness. After they declare that they will follow God, Joshua reminds them of the laws given by God. The psalmist affirms the importance of this kind of reminder; telling the story of God’s faithfulness in the past encourages us in the present. The New Testament readings address Christ’s return. The Thessalonians are concerned that those who have died might miss the final resurrection, but Paul assures them that this will not be the case. Jesus tells a parable to highlight the fact that his return will be unexpected, so we should always be ready.
Read Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25. We are prone to wander. When have you failed to keep promises you have made to God?
Read Psalm 78:1-7. How do you put your hope in God? What are you doing to awaken faith in the next generation?
Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. How does the promise of the “coming of the Lord” provide hope when present authorities seem to have a stranglehold? How does the notion that the coming Lord will hold us all accountable encourage you?
Read Matthew 25:1-13. How do you daily choose your faith? How do you keep awake?
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.”
View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.