Bible Readings for Saturday April 2nd, 2011 – The 4th Week of Lent
*Click on each bible passage to expand the text.1. [A Psalm of David.] The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;
3. he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.
4. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff– they comfort me.
5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long.32. Then Samuel said, “Bring Agag king of the Amalekites here to me.” And Agag came to him haltingly. Agag said, “Surely this is the bitterness of death.”
33. But Samuel said, “As your sword has made women childless, so your mother shall be childless among women.” And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.
34. Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul.1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2. He was in the beginning with God.
3. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being
4. in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
5. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
6. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.
8. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.
9. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world… and the darkness did not overcome it.
Does it? Did it?
Why does (God forgive me) the Word of God seem so impotent at times? How can it fall on what seems like such fertile soil, the heart of one who seems to see the light, and yet such darkness can remain.
Yesterday, my beloved friend and pastor confronted me on Jesus’ doctrine of subversive non-violence. He demanded that I reveal my hypocrisy by admitting there were actually things I would be willing to kill for: if my family were threatened, or if others were being killed in the name of injustice… but I still insist there are no such things that I would take another’s life over. I would rather mine be lost for their sake. I believe in the veracity of the Word of God, on this point most especially.
I MUST believe in this with all my heart my soul and strength. It was this very belief that sustained Jesus, Ghandi, and Martin Luther King, Jr!
Rather than compromise their beliefs to the instincts of self-preservation, the irrefutable logic of worldly-wisdom, and the irresistible persuasion of fear, they persevered through all of it and payed the ultimate price… and changed the world.
50. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.
51. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.
53. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?
I imagine Jesus’ detractors exclaimed:
“What a fool!”
“Where are your angels now, Son of God??”
Jesus had a choice, to fight or die. He had a chance to prove he was powerful and God’s righteousness was with him.
Yet, he chose to die, becuase he knew the power it would carry. Take the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection, take everything religious out of it: Jesus’ astounding willingness to die for the sake of his beliefs still carried such shock-value, such an unbelievable commitment, it made even the Roman empire take notice, and was still powerful enough to change the world.
If strict adherence to subversive-non-violence were easy to accomplish, everyone would have mastered it eons ago. And yet we still live in a world dominated by the sword.
However, this is an ideal. I admit it: I speak in the language of idealism when, in fact, The Way of the Lord is impossible! We all will fail daily to live up to it’s demands on us and that is why we need Grace. Yet the presence of Grace does not neuter the Word. In fact, the impossible nature of it gives the Word authority.
Grace makes the impossible all the more imperative to our progress, becuase in time and in faith, all things are possible in God. We simply need to declare it so, and strive for it ceaselessly, without excuse or compromise.
We must never fail to preach the absurd. We must never give in to the darkness. We must be made fools before the world, for the sake of the Lord. For the sake of ourselves.
“Don’t get panicky. Don’t do anything panicky. Don’t get your weapons. If you have weapons, take them home. He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword. Remember that is what Jesus said. We are not advocating violence. We want to love our enemies. I want you to love our enemies. Be good to them. This is what we must live by. We must meet hate with love.”
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., shortly after his house was bombed.
“For years now, we have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can we just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence; it’s nonviolence or nonexistence.”
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the night before he was shot in the head by a sniper.