Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Thought for Wednesday 17 December 2014

“For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns.  The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory.  You shall be called by a new name which the mouth of The Lord will name.  You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of The Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.  You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate …”  Isaiah 62:1-4 NKJV

You’ve no doubt heard the story of how a frog can be placed into a pot of water at room temperature, but will not try to escape the pot as the water is slowly brought to a boil.  The increase in the water’s temperature is so gradual that the body (and mind!) is given time to acclimate until the boiling water begins to do its damage. 

Of course we cannot imagine this happening to us because it is impossible for us to comprehend such a thing unless we actually experience it ourselves.  We would like to believe we are smart enough to jump out of a pot of water that begins to boil, but this is part of what social science understands about “conditioning”.  Over a period of time we go through changes we hardly notice.  We fail to understand how easily we are conditioned over time.

Israel went through the same social conditioning.  They were taught about their own religion, of course (assuming they put forth the effort to be taught), but they were conditioned to the surrounding cultures they were previously supposed to have completely destroyed.  The Lord had assured Israel He would drive out all the “-ites” whose religious and social practices were detestable to The Lord, but this would happen only if Israel would faithfully follow The Lord’s instruction to the letter.  They did not, as we know, so there were remnants left of a culture The Lord knew would entice Israel.

This reality of how easily humans are conditioned is why St. Paul encouraged the Ephesians to “walk circumspectly” (5:15) – that is, “think” about things as we perceive them and take nothing for granted – to think about things through the Scriptures and The Lord.  If we only react or respond impulsively, then we will do what is pleasing to our physical senses with little thought toward what The Lord would ask of us, ultimately taking His love for granted.

Although we are not offered excuses, the reality of how easily we can be enticed will not stop The Lord from doing what He intends to do through Israel.  The Lord intends not only to bless Israel but to bless the Gentiles through Israel’s “righteousness”.  So maybe we can see how easily Israel had been “conditioned” away from The Lord so that through the Exile, The Lord would “recondition” His people back to Himself! 

Especially considering The Story about to unfold in the season of Advent, surely we can see the great lengths to which The Lord will go to redeem His people, release us from our self-imposed prisons and chains, and give us the Life He has intended for us since the beginning!  All we have to do is respond with our choices, our lives, our decisions – and The Lord will take care of the rest!

Let not another moment slip past.  Embrace the reality of this Love, and let the Holy Spirit teach us!  Lord, bless Your Church!  And come soon, Emmanuel!



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