1st Scripture Reading: Amos 7:7-17 & Psalm 82
Last week we asked the question: “Who am I?”. and we tried to look honestly at who we are – a complex mix of potential for good and for evil. But what or who do we measure ourselves against? The prophet Amos tells us that God is the Great Judge, the true standard, and that we are called to “give justice to the weak and the orphan, maintain the right of the lowly and destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy, save them from the hands of the wicked.”
Failing to align ourselves with these standards keeps us wandering around in darkness, separate from the richness of our true inheritance as children of God - not because God has withdrawn from us, but because we have stubbornly refused to be in right relationship to God.
Hymn #288 VU “Great is Thy Faithfulness”
2nd Scripture Reading: Colossians 1:1-14 & Luke 10:25-37
And what, my friends, is right relationship to God? Indeed, IS there a God? Some people say “God is good”, some say “God is Love”, some call God “the Higher Power” or Divine Energy or a host of other names or descriptives. Within all of these, I believe, the same standard is implied.
What if you don’t believe in God? Is there then NO standard? No cry for justice? No need for compassion? No hope of eternal life? Does making this choice sentence us to wandering forever in the darkness without a compass, making more and more bad choices and decisions that are not life-giving?
Accepting that there is a standard, a God, a Higher Power, and that we are the masters of our fate, and can choose to lean toward the dark or the light, that is the beginning of establishing a relationship with God. Sure, it can go either way – but at least let’s be conscious of the choices we are making.
The God of Christianity, the God of our faith, calls us to a life where justice, mercy, kindness, love and compassion are the signposts of our life in Christ. The Apostle Paul calls the people of Colossae to live a life in Christ that “bears fruit”. He prays for them, that they might be filled with the knowledge and understanding of God, and that they might be strengthened to live a life that is pleasing to God – even the patience and fortitude to endure suffering and setbacks along the way.
The theologian and writer William Barclay says that the twin pillars of Christianity are faith in Christ, and love for humanity. Faith in Christ leads us to the Way of Love – to understanding our God as loving and faithful. As we learn to love and be grateful to God, then the overflow of that love leads us naturally to love our neighbours, and gradually to a life of selfless service. As more and more of us choose this path, this way of life in Christ, God’s kingdom becomes more and more evident among us.
I would like to share with you a story I read the other day that perhaps illustrates some of these points better than I can. It’s from a book called: The Parables: Understanding What Jesus Meant, by Gary Inrig (who is a Pastor in Redlands, California). This story is in the chapter called “Loving My Neighbour” in which he deals with the parable of the Good Samaritan in some depth. I’ll read a little of the preamble to the story, just to set it up for us.
Hymn # 12 MV “Come touch our hearts”