Saturday, June 21, 2008

My Bible reading rips out my ego, laughs at it, throws in on the ground and stomps it.

My morning readings included the first chapter of Ruth and Luke’s account of the Transfiguration of Christ (9:28ff). Ouch.

In Ruth, a group of characters do little more than die. Elimelech, his wife Naomi and their sons Mahlon and Chilion go down to Moab to escape a famine. The boys marry Moabite girls, one of whom is Ruth.

Then the guys all die. That’s pretty much all that the Bible has to say about them.

I don’t know about you, but I want my life as a Christian to be heroic. “Triumphant and victorious” are appealing words. I want to be St. Rambo, not "Chilion, Bible trivia answer." The idea of God assigning me an unremarkable life and death does not appeal to me – my ego shrieks against it.

But even Elimelech, Mahlon and Chilion are parts of something great. No, they do not seem heroic, yet by their chasing after food and just being family guys, God is setting up the salvation of the world. We find out that Ruth stays with Naomi – “your God will be my God” – and that leads to Ruth’s marriage to one of Naomi’s kinsmen, and THAT leads to the birth of King David, and THAT sets up the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior.

The reading from Luke shows that I need not be the hero out in front of the charge. The lesson is filled with clueless disciples:
  • Peter and the others had fallen asleep.
  • Peter blurted out an idea, “not even knowing what he was saying….”
  • The disciples fail in their efforts to help a suffering boy (this one really hurt – a couple of weeks ago I looked on like an idiot as my autistic son suffered his first gran-mal seizure.)
  • Jesus tells them plainly what he will do, but “they don’t understand.”

Yeah, my ego wants to do something dramatic “for Christ.” But more often, his work seems to unfold when I am clueless and hapless – and his best work is probably stuff I’m not even perceiving.

My passionate side can be a gift – it is part of God’s factory issued package and from it comes some of my strength as a priest and leader. But my ego also gives Satan some solid footholds.

Thank you, Father, for roughing up my ego when I read your word. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for revealing Christ alone as the hero, the Savior, the author and perfecter of the plan. Thank you, Jesus, for loving my sorry, selfish soul enough to die for its salvation.


Wallace H. Hartley said...

Nice posting. Those poor unsuspecting men. Don't we want to out think the Lord? Not only second guess, or question what has already passed, but try to also guess His plan, the outcome He has in mind? Your post makes me wonder.
"I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die.
For poor on'ry people like you and like I...
I wonder as I wander out under the sky." (collected by )

Wallace H. Hartley said...

Collected by John Jacob Niles. His link did not show above so here it is in long hand:

TLF+ said...

Wallace, thanks. Yes, I do sometimes try to guess the plan. More often (and worse), I think I try to dictate it!

Had a woman in a former congregation who could sing that hymn so wonderfully. Thanks for the reminders - theological, musical and nostalgic!