Psalm 80; Isaiah 32:9–20; James 3:17–18
“Tremble, all of you who are at ease;
shudder, all of you who are secure!”
—Isaiah 32:11 (CEB)
Isaiah’s words were directed towards people who were confident that the military might and influence of Egypt would protect them from other enemies. Something along the lines of, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Except that alliances switched all the time. Relying on Egypt—especially Egypt—was not a good long-term plan.
The church, too, often practices the same thing with its Egypt…the government. This is not a new thing. It is not a Democrat or Republican thing. It isn’t a Tory or a Labour thing (political parties in the UK). Whether we gather from history the intertwinings of the church with the later years Roman Empire, to the Roman Catholics ties to many Western European countries, to the Orthodox ties with Eastern European countries.Many critics and critiques of the church claim that the church lost its way when Emperor Constantine. True, the church was blinded by the freedom to be and impose with power. However, that wasn’t the real issue. The real issue was the people of the church.
Slowly, ever so slowly, discipleship became catechism. Passing the catechism test (which could be very stressful) was all that was needed to be a “member”. Catechism faded away too, to a point where many people don’t even know some of the core tenants of the faith they espouse. Then people were baptized into a faith their parents didn’t practice (i.e., the Church of England) or thought they were Christian because of the place they were born (the US).
There were a lot of steps in between. There were even successful attempts to fix the situation (John Wesley’s bands, classes, and societies; the Sunday School movement). However, they lost steam as the world changed. They also lost steam as the church chose to both withdraw from the world and to attack the world.
One cannot be the light to a people one does not know; one cannot be the light to people one acts towards as if hatred were the motivation, rather than love.
“What of the wisdom from above? First, it is pure, and then peaceful, gentle, obedient, filled with mercy and good actions, fair, and genuine. Those who make peace sow the seeds of justice by their peaceful acts.”
—James 3:17–28 (CEB)
Part of the spiritual work that we are called to is creating the healthy spiritual soil from which the green of life. Healthy spiritual soil is pure (and is being purified), gentle, obedient, merciful, acts in the ways of Christ, fair, and genuine. From that healthy spiritual soil, we have the strength, drive, ability, and even natural response to bring peace and justice into the world.
- What is the condition of your spiritual soil?
- What does your soil need more of? Fertilizer, minerals, water, sand, loam?
- Why does ignoring the state of your soil endanger your continued spiritual health and growth?
Holy Spirit, guide us to nourish the soil that will bring honor and glory to you, the Father and the Son through our lives. Amen.