Bread – Consequences

September 6, 2013


Readings for Friday, September 6, 2013, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: 1 Kings 11:26-43; James 4:13-5:6; Mark 15:22-32; Psalms 31,35

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We learn in physics that for every action there is a consequence, a reaction. We often act in ignorance of this simple truth because the consequence may take minutes, hours, weeks, years, or generations to reveal itself, but the rule holds true – for every action, there are consequences.

Perhaps we depreciate the actions established for us in Scripture because we do not fully comprehend the consequences of those actions. I would like to say that we don’t care, but that is not true. We do care when the consequence is immediate. Who, being hung over three feet above molten lava would not plead for his or her life? Who would not accept the benefit of rescue when one is a couple of seconds away from drowning? The fact is that the imminent danger (the consequence), when it is imminent, brings to our mind immediately what we did wrong and we instantly seek to fix the problem we created. In my examples of the molten lava and the deep waters, how did we get out there? We know in our hearts and in our minds that our presence in such dangerous circumstances is the end result of a series of choices we made, a series of actions we took. Every action has a reaction. Every action has a consequence.

Our readings today have everything to do with actions which have led to consequences.

In 1 Kings, Solomon has been disobedient to God and not followed in His ways, permitting himself and his country to be overcome with the worshiping of other gods, Ashtoreth (the mother-goddess, fertility, earth mother, sexual freedom), Chemosh (god of war), and Milcom (another name for Moloch, a god who reveled in the death of children) [as a side note, sexual freedom, war, and abortion – do we recognize this place?] As a consequence of these actions, God took away ten of the twelve tribes of Israel and gave them to Jeroboam, resulting in civil war and the split between Israel and Judah in the Old Testament. Notice, however, that this consequence was delayed until Solomon’s death (1 Kings 11:40), which was some time off. So, do you think that the people connected their actions [sexual immorality, war, abortion] to the consequences [civil war and the division of the country]. Probably not, because they were remote. Unconnected actions at unconnected points in history? No, very, very connected. Actions have consequences.

In James, the wealthy have glorified themselves on earth, suppressing the poor and the righteous. They live well, so what are the consequences of their actions? We can’t see any consequences. That is because the consequences are delayed, but they are real. As James says, “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you.” James 5:1. James does not say what those consequences are, but he can clearly see them. Can you? If not, maybe you should re-visit the images of being hung over molten lava or three seconds away from drowning in deep waters.

And then finally, we see in Scripture today the ultimate consequences of our sins, our actions. Let us pick up the reading: “And they brought Him [Jesus] to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull)….And they crucified Him…” Mark 15:22-24 Yes, our actions have consequences. Our actions killed Jesus, offered as a consequence, a sacrifice, for our sins so that we would not have to bear the wrath of God, condemned for eternity.

Now, all we have done today is talk about actions leading to negative consequences, but the Bible is full of actions which lead to positive consequences – repentance and trust in Jesus with a consequence of eternal life, subordination of our rights leading to love and joy, obedience to God resulting in peace, etc.

Of course, these consequences may not be immediate and so we run the risk of ignoring them, thinking that what we do today has no effect on tomorrow because we cannot see it. But we can see it if we will see it.

Today, ask yourself a different question and see if it doesn’t begin to change your behavior. Ask yourself what will be the immediate, intermediate, and long term consequences of what I am getting ready to do, both consequences to myself and to others. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom to see these consequences. Ask yourself this question about what you are going to do before you do or say it. And see if it doesn’t begin to change what you do and how you do, and who you do it to. Maybe, even, you will decide not to do it all – and spare you and us the consequences.

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© 2013 GBF

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