Daily Devotions

Beyond Mere Relevance

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He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-18)

 

When I was in High School in the late 1970s, I remember some church members complaining about the minister at our church, and ministers around the country, trying to water down the message with a self-help gospel. They complained that the minister’s attempt at relevance wasn’t appreciated. Yet, in the time when the Baby Boomers were coming of age, it was relevant.

Now, there are those in the church complaining that the church is too political, and not biblical enough. This is a sad commentary on the biblical intelligence of the Christian Church. Both the Old and New Testaments are fundamentally political. For example, Jesus’ arguments with the Pharisees and Sadducees were political arguments. Jesus believed the Sadducees were too closely aligned with the Roman Empire. Jesus was very aggressive and loud in his attacks on the Roman Empire and their representatives. Just ask Pontus Pilate if Jesus was political or not.

Politics today is not a marketing ploy to remain relevant with the Millennials, the way self-help was for the religious Baby-Boomers. Religious political engagement is not optional, but is part of the fiber of the Christian experience. It is part of Christ’s DNA. It is how we do separate Christian Mission from mere charity. It is how we live out a true Christian ethic. It is how we bring God’s truth, wisdom, and compassion to the overall structures of this world.

Today, pray for our world’s political structures. Ask God to guide us in the way of righteousness. There is no greater way to make change in this world, than through a nation’s political structures. When we shut the door in God’s face, by saying, “Keep the church out of political life,” we lose the ability to make lasting, positive change. This week, read your Bible and reflect on the ways each passage might have a political impact on the ancient world and on our world today.

Remembering September 11, 2001

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A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:8)

 

I still cannot think about this day without reliving September 11, 2001. I got up early that morning and went on a bike ride. It was absolutely beautiful. I even stopped, which I never do, and just looked at the lake and sky and appreciated its beauty. I got home and turned on ESPN. It was weird, watching the show, but having them encouraging the audience to turn to the regular news on another channel. I turned and watched the second tower crumble to the ground. I called the church and told them to get ready for a prayer service later that evening.

A couple years ago, I was talking with my daughter who is now 27 years old. I was reminiscing about that day, and the service that evening. She stopped me and said, “Dad, I barely remember that day. I was still in elementary school.” She is in her late twenties and she cannot remember our 21st century Pearl Harbor. This epiphany called me to share more 9/11 stories. We should never forget the pain and suffering of the day. Neither should we forget the courage and bravery of those who stepped into the flames and ash. We should never forget those who died, both the innocent and those who thought their best option was to crash planes into buildings.

The last thing I told my daughter about that day was how close we became as a country through our common tragedy. I told her how amazing it was that our country didn’t overreact the same way we did after Pearl Harbor. We didn’t build internment camps. While there were a few sad episodes of anti-Muslim reaction, by and large, we remained united. That is an even bigger miracle when we look at how fractured and divided we’ve become today.

Today, pray for our nation. Pray for all the diversity in our country and the restoration of openness and inclusivity. I know that today I will be praying that God will help me to be more loving and respectful. Pray for our country’s leadership, that they will be more concerned about the country as a whole, and not simply about their personal power, or the power of their party. Finally, pray for the Holy Spirit to use this time to bring a new spirit of compassion and reconciliation. September 11, 2001 is a reminder that we have the ability to see beyond the morass, to the greater good of our country and all its people.

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