Sunday, July 11, 2010

I'm No Prophet

I’m no prophet but things don’t look too good for the world we live in today. There are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There’s the New Horizon oil rig explosion. It was bad enough that 11 people died in the explosion but now the whole Gulf Coast is suffering from the oil that is washing up on their shores. There’s the genocide in Rwanda, Darfur, and South Africa and religious persecution in Myanmar, Indonesia, the Philippines, Pakistan, and China. There’s the border fence and people coming into the US illegally because they can’t support their families at home in Mexico or Columbia, or wherever they’ve come from. There are the shootings in Omaha everyday.

Friends, our world is hurting. People are hurting. Countries are hurting. We are hurting. We’ve been beaten, robbed of our possessions, and left for dead by the side of the road by, whom…?

Our world is hurting and there doesn’t seem to be any Samaritan, good or bad, who is willing to stop and bind up our wounds. There aren’t any prophets like Amos who are answering the call from God to hold those in power accountable for what’s happening to our world. Everyone who could help is angling across to the other side of the road. At least that’s what it feels like.

I’m no prophet. I’m just a tool and die maker that God has called to preach here in Walnut. Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing. I worry that sometimes I might say something that will upset people. I don’t have answers to these problems in the world but I have quite a few questions, why, how, what, when.

God called Amos to speak for those who were being oppressed by the kings of Israel and Judah. He wasn’t a prophet either. He was a farmer who cared for sheep and he trimmed trees. He knew nothing about prophesying but still God spoke to him in visions and sent him to prophesy.

He wasn’t liked by the leaders. In fact one of them told him to pack it up and go back home. They didn’t appreciate the Message God had given him for them. Sometimes what God calls us to do is just not very popular with the rest of the world.

Jesus’ parable, of the man who was left lying by the side of the road by robbers and who was cared for by the Samaritan, wasn’t well received either. When the lawyer asked him who his neighbor was I think he expected Jesus to answer that his neighbors were his Jewish brothers and sisters. Wrong. The neighbor in Jesus’ story was the one who stopped and helped the man lying on the side of the road. The man who showed mercy to the stranded traveler was one who had himself probably suffered rejection and ridicule because of his heritage. He wasn’t the one the lawyer would have chosen for his neighbor.

I’m no prophet but I believe the Message for us today is the same as it was when Jesus was asked by the lawyer how he might achieve eternal life. We all know the answer, Love God with all our power and being; love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves.

Two short but very powerful sentences love God and love our neighbors. It’s not so easy to love the Supreme Being when we have never seen Him. Some people aren’t sure God even is. The second commandment to love our neighbors sounds easy but the world hasn’t done so well keeping it either.

Friends, I don’t know what else to say. We, the human race, have made a mess of things. Our world is in pretty bad shape and I wonder if it will ever be made right. I really believe that there is nothing any human being can do to fix the things that are wrong.

So, what should we do? I believe that we need to admit that we are at a loss for answers and take it to God in prayer. We need confess that we have made a terrible mess of it all and we need God’s help. We need to go to our knees in prayer and ask God to use us however he wills to do his work.

As Paul told us in his letter to the Romans, “Who in the world do we think we are to second-guess God? Do we for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? (Romans 9:20)

The Message for us today is to remember everyday what Jesus commanded, “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you love yourself.” (Luke 10:27) Treat those we find lying on the side of the road with kindness and mercy even if they aren’t like us, even if they might be our enemy.

Thanks be to God for his amazing grace and love. Amen.

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