Warnings abound regarding hyper-partisanship globally. While many around the world work for peace, just when we think a new age is on the horizon, new hostilities break out somewhere. Those hostilities breed dissatisfaction and discord, government action and inaction, attacks and war. Some issues that we think should be inconsequential or easily resolved escalate, fueled by non-negotiable values.
Perhaps the hostility impulse is universal. We celebrate and denigrate athletic feats with the force of ultimate ideas. We deify our team and demonize the other, mostly with no legitimate reason for our loyalty. Maybe it’s our locality or our family history or even our favorite color. Our team is right; all other teams are wrong. Our views are right; there is no other legitimate view.
At first glance, the idea of deliverance from personal enemies as expressed in today’s reading may seem foreign. But sometimes we actually pray for the victory of our sports teams! And beyond that world, we may have rivals for employment or competitors in business. We might have political opponents. We might have religious views in conflict.
These differences need not breed enmity on a visceral level. And yet they often do. Each of these temporary relationships can be elevated to something from which we need deliverance.
As with the psalmist, our best focus is not on that adversity or enemy but on God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. God is the source of our deliverance. And according to the psalmist, God overcomes all those hostilities with a nature that supersedes “enemies,” “kings,” and “gods.”
The reality of this psalm is that we can turn to God for protection and peace, regardless of the nature of our hostilities.
God of peace, I call on you to deliver me from adversity, and I commit to work for peace even in the midst of adversity. Amen.
We sometimes struggle to believe in the power of a God we cannot see. The psalmist declares that God is greater than any earthly king and will preserve us in the face of our enemies. However, in the time of Samuel, the Israelites demanded a human king to lead them into battle. God was not enough for them. Paul admonishes the Corinthians not to repeat this mistake. We should not think that what we see is the ultimate reality. What we see is temporary; what cannot be seen is eternal. Perhaps Jesus is teaching a similar idea in this somewhat troubling passage in Mark. Jesus is not against family, but he is emphasizing that human families are temporary; spiritual family is eternal.
Read 1 Samuel 8:4-20. How are you influenced by the culture around you? What helps you try to align your priorities with God’s?
Read Psalm 138. When you “walk in the midst of trouble,” how do you remember God’s presence with you?
Read 2 Corinthians 4:13–5:1. How do you find yourself being renewed today in spite of parts of your “outer nature” that may be “wasting away”?
Read Mark 3:20-35. Who is your spiritual family? Whom do you identify as your brothers, sisters, mother, and father?
Respond by posting a prayer.
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