Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A new treasure

One of the things that I find most amazing about the word of God, er, make that the Word of God, is that there's always some new treasure to discover.  There are moments in my life, I have to admit, when I feel like I've read it so often, that I couldn't possibly find anything in it I didn't already know.  This, of course, is a more a commentary on me than on God, particularly if you notice that I'm the one finding things, rather than God revealing Himself to me.  And when I am most certain I will discover nothing new, it's mostly because I'm dry as kindling and need to be set on fire by the Holy Spirit.  This often happens by reading and re-reading words and passages that aren't necessarily new but the grounding ones in my life, if that makes sense.  Psalm 63:1 is a good example: "You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you in a dry and parched land where there is no water."

While it is true that daily readings even of something as large and diverse as the Bible will give a person a fairly strong familiarity with it, it's also true that the very diversity means that what hit me last month or last year I can read right over without even noticing today.  He never changes, His word never changes, but my circumstances, my attitudes and my needs definitely do. Many people use a yearly Bible readings to keep themselves on track to...you guessed it, read through the Bible in a year.  But I've never done that.  I like skipping around too much.  For instance, when I get the God-inspired hankering to read Matthew, it almost always leads me back into the Old Testament.  Matthew is considered the 'Jewish' gospel, and there are so many prophecies listed (and fulfilled) that it behooves me (I've always wanted to use the word 'behoove' in a post) to read those prophecies in their first context.  And so it goes.  I can only go a couple of months without finding my way back into at least one of the gospels.  I realize that I should consider every word in the Word as equally "God-breathed", but I admit that there's something about the uttered words of the Incarnate that I lean in to listen to more carefully. I mean, this is what He chose to speak when He lived on this earth and walked around in human skin. It gives me goosebumps to think of God in human skin.  Really! Any of you out there like me? A show of hands? 

But there are many treasures.  And now and then I read something I could swear I've read forty-thousand times, but NEVER saw this kernel before.  It hits a place that needs hitting OR it speaks a truth that we need to understand.  And just last night I found such a treasure in 1 Timothy.  Actually, I've been dwelling in 1 Timothy lately.  Sometimes it's good to do that, to just kick off one's shoes, and settle in for a spell.  Have you read 1 Timothy 4 recently?   Some great stuff in there.  But finally last night I moved on to the 5th chapter...had to wade through Paul's clear bias against women (which I realize was cultural, but still gets to me, being a woman, after all!), which may be why I haven't noticed this verse before. But here it is:

"The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. ."  1 Timothy 5:24, 25

Did you catch that? The sins of some are obvious. This isn't rocket science.  We're all very aware of the sins of some. We know what those sins are.  We see them splattered all over the news, and judge them harshly not merely in our courts but in our hearts.  And we expect God to do the same.  However, I'm confronted more strongly with the second part of that verse--that the sins of others trail behind them.  These are the sins that might just be more deadly.  I'm thinking of the attitudes we pass down to our children, the critical spirit we justify to others, the pride and selfishness that define our lives.  These sins will trail after us--in the hurts we do to others, and in what we've left undone because we cared only for ourselves.

We live in the tension of these two possibilities, I think, that our actions and inactions will go ahead of us to the throne room, or that we'll leave of disaster of our sin in our wake...and perhaps it's good to simply sit in that tension for a while.  To recognize that we are what we are, that even as believers, we must face the facts.  Paul was writing his son in the faith when he penned these words, not a non-Christian he was trying to convince.
However, we have the assurance that we've not only been forgiven but actually saved from the prison of those sins.   The sins that are the final word for the world are patently not for us. Jesus Christ's work on the Cross--for our sake!!!--and His resurrection as victory over sin and death: these are the final words.
 That's the end of the story.

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