Monday, August 04, 2014

A Thought

“When [The Lord] summoned famine against the land and broke every staff of bread, He had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave.  He feet were hurt with fetters, his neck was put in a collar of iron; until what he had said came to pass, the word of The Lord kept testing him” (Psalm 105:16-19).

In the Genesis story (37:1-28), Joseph was the source of much resentment from his older brothers not only because he was Jacob’s favored one but also because “Joseph brought a bad report of [his brothers] to their father” (Gen 37:2).  In other words, Joseph was a snitch!  Joseph was also a dreamer who had rather lofty visions of his own future, a vision that would come to fruition in which his brothers – and the well-being of the Covenant – would be dependent on what The Lord would do with and for Joseph in the future.  Needless to say, it took years before Joseph was able to realize The Lord had chosen him for a very special task.

Clearly Joseph was favored also in the eyes of The Lord but not strictly for Joseph’s personal sake.  Rather The Lord had His eye on the whole of Israel and His own Covenant with Abraham; Joseph would become an instrument of survival for the sake of the Covenant and the people of The Lord.  This, I think, is an element of the whole of the redemption story often overlooked especially in today’s Christian context.  We have allowed a few prominent TV preachers to convince some that when bad things happen to them, they are the result of one of two things: a) their faith is insufficient, or b) the devil is out to get them.  Neither is adequate (or even true) when measured against the biblical heroes who endured maltreatment far beyond anything you or I could imagine today, being “tested” as they were for The Lord’s purposes.

“Consider it pure joy … whenever you face trial of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3).  When we are tested, then, our allegiance to The Lord is not necessarily what is on the line.  Rather we are perhaps being prepared for something much greater, something that will involve the well-being of the Church herself!  Either way, the fidelity of The Lord and His greater purposes are the key component of the trials we face.

We must not allow a select few to convince us “the devil is out to get us”.  Maybe he is, but the one thing we can be certain of is that The Lord is with His Church, “even to the end of the age”.  This assurance makes that devil thing laughable.

If we feel our faith being pressed and seemingly tested beyond our capacity to endure, we must remember The Lord’s much grander purposes and stop believing the idle chit-chat of religionists who make things up as they go almost completely independent of what is actually written in the Scriptures.  We are not now, nor will we ever be, “victims” because of the Gospel.  We are now, and will ever be, “agents” of The Good News!  Because The Almighty loves our unbelieving neighbor as much as He loves His Church.



No comments: