Monday, July 08, 2013

A Thought for Monday 7/8/13

“My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for testing.  Set your heart right and be steadfast, and do not be impetuous in time of calamity.  Cling to Him and do not depart, so that your last days may be prosperous.  Accept whatever befalls you, and in times of humiliation be patient.  For gold is tested in the fire, and those found acceptable, in the furnace of humiliation.  Trust in Him, and He will help you; make your ways straight, and hope in Him.”  Sirach 2:1-6

If this book reference is unfamiliar to you, it is among the books of the so-called “Apocrypha”.  This is a collection of books regarded by some traditions as authoritative but not are not typically included in Protestant Bibles.  Whether or not the book itself is authoritative is not nearly as important as the value of the book in reflecting the will of the Lord in the Law and the Prophets and speaking of divine wisdom which comes only to those who wait “patiently” with hope, obedience, and intense respect (fear).

This passage strikes me as particularly useful in reminding us of how difficult our first steps in the Lord can be.  Too many traditions today play “getting saved” as easy (actually more closely resembling “abracadabra”), but the writer reminds the new believer that following and serving the Lord (the path of discipleship) will not be easy at all, but that perseverance in the Lord and His ways will come with more than ample rewards: wisdom from On High and the capacity for understanding the Law in its fullest and richest context.

We Christians are reminded that Jesus came to fulfill the Law rather than do away with it, but we typically keep the Law at arm’s length because of a few out-of-context verses written by St. Paul – AND – because we do not try to understand the Law.  The writer is clear, however, as is the writer of the letters to Timothy: the Law and the Prophets ARE the Scriptures and are worthy of our time and effort.  So we must “not only … understand them [ourselves], but must also as lovers of learning (disciples) be able through the spoken and written word to help the outsiders”; that is, those who do not believe (Prologue, Sirach).  This, dear friends, is the key component of what it means to be a disciple.

Let us reconnect with our Lord through His Word and learn wisdom so that we may serve Him more faithfully by serving one another through Messiah, the “word made flesh”.



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