Tradition vs. Newness

Acts 5:12-18         
12 The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. They would come together regularly at Solomon’s Porch. 13 No one from outside the church dared to join them, even though the people spoke highly of them. 14 Indeed, more and more believers in the Lord, large numbers of both men and women, were added to the church. 15 As a result, they would even bring the sick out into the main streets and lay them on cots and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow could fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Even large numbers of persons from towns around Jerusalem would gather, bringing the sick and those harassed by unclean spirits. Everyone was healed. 17 The high priest, together with his allies, the Sadducees, was overcome with jealousy. 18 They seized the apostles and made a public show of putting them in prison.
[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

 

 The apostles began to pick up where Yeshua had left off — teaching and healing. Many held them in high regard as their fame spread. Followers were being added regularly. The high priest was troubled by their actions and had them arrested and sent to prison. The apostles got free that evening, with a growing insistence that they should continue to teach and heal, even though the high priest had forbidden them. They were re-arrested and brought before the high priest. “We have a calling,” they testified, “to bring repentance and forgiveness to Israel.” This angered the high priest and other temple leaders. They wanted to out-do Yeshua, even to death; but Gamaliel, a highly respected rabbi, intervened. He convinced them to set aside their plans by a simple argument – if it is God’s plan it will succeed; if it is of yout own human devising, it will fail. The apostles were flogged and released, having been warned not to speak on behalf of Yeshua. They continued to teach and present Yeshua to the people.

A Spooky Way to Live

Leviticus 26:9-13  
I will turn my face to you, will make you fruitful and numerous, and will keep my covenant with you. 10 You will still be eating the previous year’s harvest when the time will come to clear it out to make room for the new! 11 I will place my dwelling[b] among you, and I will not despise you. 12 I will walk around among you; I will be your God, and you will be my people. 13 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt’s land—who brought you out from being Egypt’s slaves. I broke your bonds and made you stand up straight.
[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.] 

In the name of God, I sense an insistence, feel a nudging. Yes, me! As I respond to that beckoning I am more productive than I dare imagine.  When I am faithful to that calling, that calling is faithful to me. Such faithfulness is like a feast of my favorite foods; there always seems to be more for my feasting.  When I follow that leading, the name of God takes on reality and I am proud to be associated with that name. It is as if I am descended from all those who have been freed from slavery. With them, I throw off the shackles (real and metaphorical) that have bound me and I stand tall before all people. That is the audacity of God — that I should be audacious in the name of God and, by my response, make God’s presence in the world viable. It is truly a spooky way to live. Thanks be to God, to the Insistence that transforms!

A Narrowly-conceived God

Psalm 80:1-5         
1 Shepherd of Israel, listen! You, the one who leads Joseph as if he were a sheep. You, who are enthroned upon the winged heavenly creatures. Show yourself before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh! Wake up your power! Come to save us! Restore us, God. Make your face shine so that we can be saved! Lord God of heavenly forces, how long will you fume against your people’s prayer? You’ve fed them bread made of tears; you’ve given them tears to drink three times over!
[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

A God who is narrowly conceived has nothing to do but look after and protect those who have conceived Him/Her. Of course the who have thus envisioned God don’t even believe their own machinations. They prove their dis-belief as they continue to arm themselves and put their reliance on military might. That is truly their “bread of tears … tears to drink in full measure.”

It is said that “those who live by the sword, die by the sword.” True at some level. However, at an inner level, we all either live by the sword or learn to integrate our violent tendencies as a passionate desire to work for peace. What is true for individuals is also true for nations. Such a transformation is the real meaning of restoration in the name of God. Perhaps.