Today’s Bible readings can be found at this link: Zephaniah 3:1-10 and 1 Corinthians 7:1-20.
Zephaniah 3:5 The Lord within her is righteous; he does no wrong. Morning by morning he dispenses his justice, and every new day he does not fail, yet the unrighteous know no shame. (NIV)
Some parts of the Bible are harder to accept and embrace than others. We usually look for promises and blessings from scripture to make us feel good, loved, and accepted by God, especially when we are going through some trying times. However, the Bible is not a quaint book full of positive thoughts and lovely affirmations. It is rooted in the struggle between God and humankind, so there are bits, passages, and sections that are very difficult to read and receive.
Take, for instance, today’s passage from the prophet Zephaniah (3:1-10). It’s full of doom and gloom because it’s all about God’s wrathful response to the sins of His people. God comes across as a Destroyer of cities and nations which is actually very scary. There doesn’t seem to be anything positive to hold on to, or anything wonderful to glean. Now there are some folks who relish this kind of wrathful judgment in scripture and who use these words to spiritually terrorize other people. They gleefully embrace and apply these scornful words as weapons to condemn others who do not believe in God in a similar way. However, in doing this, they miss the point completely. In the midst of all the damnation and destruction, God is constantly upholding justice each day – for the poor and powerless, the deprived and marginalized.
God is almighty and at any time He could destroy the entire universe, however, His grace endures and His mercy is given each day. Our role, as Christians, is to follow Christ and apply those divine blessings, even in a time when the unrighteous know no shame.
Point to ponder: Where do I see God’s justice prevail in the world? How can I align myself with His way?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, it is so very easy to condemn others, especially when we do not like what they are saying or doing. We can feel smug and self-important that we are not like them, but that would be false. In the midst of our sinful ways, teach us about justice, mercy, and grace. Help us to apply these gifts to those we dislike, oppose, and even distrust. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
Today’s image is one of John’s Celtic drawings called “Celtic Heart.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click here. If you would like to give some feedback on today’s message, please send him an email to Traqair@aol.com.