Bread – Vanished

October 16, 2013


Readings for Wednesday, October 16, 2013, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Jer. 37:3-21; 1 Cor. 14:13-25; Matt. 10:24-33; Psalms 12,13,14,119:1-24

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Within the virtual space called “social media,” many, many opinions are given over everything. On one topic recently, the commentator was estimating millions of opinions were being generated within a day or two on the Internet.

Where is wisdom in this? Where is understanding? Although it is called the “social media,” it is more aptly described as the “anti-social media,” since it permits us to hide in our hidey-holes to engage people on our terms rather than force us to deal with people, life, and society in the raw.

Back in the days of King David, I wonder if the men and women of God didn’t have their own form of places to hide from society. In our reading today from Psalm 12, titled “The Faithful Have Vanished,” the Psalm begins this way: “Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished among the children of man.” Ps. 12:1

The faithful have vanished.

Have we, as Christians, vanished from the public discourse, from the public arena? Have we so weakened our proclamation of the gospel that we are indistinguishable from the background noise? Is our belief system so worldly that we are now blended into the background, one of the many, engaged in our version of opinion-giving, but without influence in a sea of opinion-givers?

In our reading from 1 Corinthians today, Paul attempts to distinguish the application of the two spiritual gifts of tongues and prophesy. Of note to the topic today, Paul says “But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.” 1 Cor. 14:24-25

The essential nature of prophesy is not only speaking the wisdom of what will happen, but what is happening. It is the piercing action of seeing clearly, speaking what is seen boldly, and also telling clearly what the solution is. Yes, it is a spiritual gift given to those whom God wishes, when He wishes, and for the purpose He wishes. But it is really no different than what businessmen do every day when they clearly observe something wrong in their business, speak boldly with wisdom about what that wrong is, and promote a solution. The difference of course is that the prophesy of a Christian who is in fact prophesizing is provided his insight, wisdom, and boldness by the Holy Spirit.

There is a problem with prophesy, however, and that is that the people who have to change their ways in response to it do not like it; in fact, they probably will hate it and take out their anger on you.

But Jesus says, “so what?” In our reading from Matthew today, He says: “What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matt. 10:27-28

We all have spheres of influence, in our families, among our friends, in our churches, in our social organizations, in our business, in our industry, in our city, in our state, in our country, and in the world. Perhaps you are friends with only two people and you work alone and don’t participate in anything else. Well, you have a sphere of influence of two (or three if you include yourself). The question is, within your sphere of influence, have you, as one of the faithful, vanished? Do the other members of your sphere look to you as one of them or as a prophet, as a person with great wisdom and discernment, as a person who loves without condition, as a person who lives as a Christian? Are you at the forefront of their mind, challenging them to see clearly, to repent, to turn, to admit, to trust, and to claim Jesus, or have you merely faded into the background?

I know many Christians who will react with surprise at the challenge as whether they have “vanished,” because we are active in promoting our views of Judeo-Christian doctrine throughout law, politics, business, economics, and a variety of other “ics” and “isms.” However, is the proclamation of the benefits of free enterprise the proclamation of Jesus? Is the proclamation of a strong China policy the proclamation of Jesus? Is the proclamation of better health care the proclamation of Jesus?

See, the proclamation of some or many things may fail as the proclamation of who we are and whose we are. We may be fully present in the social debate, and totally vanished as one known as Christian.

There is a final thought in today’s readings. We may have vanished, but God has not. Psalm 12 also says this: “The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.” Ps. 12:6. We may be blind, lame, lost, withdrawn, and gone, but the Word of the Lord stands forever. Thanks be to God!

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© 2013 GBF

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