Bread – Needy

June 30, 2017


Psalm 72

For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who have no helper.  He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.”  Ps. 72:12-13

There are three actors in these verses, two apparent and one disguised.

The first apparent actor is described as both a noun and an adjective.  Man is both the “needy” (the noun) and the “needy (man)” (the adjective).

Who are these needy and what do they need so badly that they are needy.  When we answer the what, it will identify the who.  When we think of need, we most often think of physical issues have to do with money.  He or she needs a job, needs a shelter, and/or needs food and water.  We have a famous researcher who has described a ‘hierarchy of needs,” and these needs for shelter and food are first on the list.  At the top of the list is the need to be appreciated, to be wanted or desired, to have our pride stroked.  In between are the needs for safety and security (free from worry) and companionship.

We make a big mistake when we believe that the only needy people are the ones in the food lines.  The truth is that all of us are needy of these things, but also things like hope, safety, security, friendship, and dignity.

So the answer to the “who are the needy” question is “Everyone.”  You, me, them … everyone is needy.

So now that we have identified who the needy person is, who is the the second obvious actor.  It is the “he” in the sentence, which relates back to an earlier verse, the first verse, where the “he” is the king, which in the case of this specific Psalm could have been Solomon.

Since the “king” today is the government, perhaps these verses could be interpreted as a command that us, the needy, are to turn to the government (the king) for the fulfillment of our needs, to fulfill our need for food and health care, our need for safety and security, our need for dignity in the word, and our need for companionship.  And so, in the mad rush to fill our needs, our world would have us turn to the “obvious” king for deliverance, to the state.

And so the natural course of man is to give to the state the power to “help” them, and in so doing give up their individual rights to the collective.

Entire civilizations and philosophies are founded on this principal, that it is the “king” who protects, to delivers good things, who feeds, etc. his needy people.

But to do so ignores the silent actor in these verses, the disguised actor.  Who is this?  Well, I think it becomes obvious when we remove the written attempts to bring God to our level and change the verses so that they now read: “For He delivers the needy when he calls, and poor and him who have no helper.  He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.”  What have I changed?  One letter in one word.  I changed “For he…” to “For He…

And now you know the rest of the story.  The “He” who delivers is the King of the Psalm, the Messiah, Lord of Lords and King of Kings.  It is not the man-king but the God-King.

Because we are needy, we will look to a king to deliver us from those needs, to save us.  If we are secular and have no faith in Christ, the king is the state and we will want the state to feed us, teach us, raise us, nurture us, build us into communities of the king’s making, and love us.  This is slavery unto death but it is the choice of needy people who only see the little “king.”

If we believe in Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are still needy but the source of our deliverance is a different king, a King Jesus, Creator of the world.  Our King is King and we will look to Him, Father, and Holy Spirit to feed us, teach us, raise us, build us into communities of His making, and love us.  This is slavery unto life and is the choice of those who see the big “King.”

You are needy.  Which king will deliver you?

________

© 2017 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

 

 

Bread – Affairs

June 12, 2013


Readings for Wednesday, June 12, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Deut. 31:30-32:14; 2 Cor. 11:21b-33; Luke 19:11-27; Psalms 72,119:73-96

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From the single word “affairs,” one might think that this Bread is about sexual temptation. However, it is not. It is about daily affairs.

You know the kind of daily affairs that I am talking about, the kind of daily affairs which translate to “there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for …” 2 Cor. 11:28.

These are the kinds of daily affairs which translate to “daily pressure” and from which arise “anxiety for.” And you must admit, we all suffer from the daily affairs of life which are the daily pressure of life and which result in many, many anxieties and worries.

We tend to trivialize these little matters, but they are not trivial. They occupy much of our day, crowd out gratitude and joy, nag at us from near and far, and cause tension throughout our body, mind, and soul. They are often the tools of Satan’s discouragement, making us doubt whether we are children of God, victorious in everything, persevering in triumph, capable of love of others. These daily affairs grind us down, distract us from our role as ambassadors of Christ, confuse us, and make us feel like we are distant from God and others. These daily affairs support our focus on ourselves, build pride, and give us our false sense of independence from God. These daily affairs, these daily pressures, these sources of anxiety and worry are not trivial.

In today’s reading from Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth, Paul is trying to demonstrate that, from a worldly measure point of view, he has all of the qualifications to say what he says. In the process, he lists a lot of problems he has faced. Here is his list:

“Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” 2 Cor. 11:24-27.

In other words, Paul reports suffering many near death experiences, being beat up, at severe risk of loss, tortured and starving, among other things. We would treat each of these as a major life event and we would give thanks to God for bringing us through these life events more or less intact. We would consider survival of these things proof of God’s grace and mercy in our lives. And we would be right, and wrong.

Because Paul does not see these things as the major things in his life. Instead, Paul sees the daily affairs as the major things because, following his litany of trials, Paul ends this way – “And, apart from [these] other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all of the churches.” 2 Cor. 11:28

Apart from all that, I (Paul) have to worry about the things in my daily life over which I have been appointed by God.

So, Paul, the great man of faith to whom Jesus appeared personally, the author of much of the New Testament, has anxiety, has worries, feels daily pressure, has to confront his daily affairs.

Our reading today from Luke is about the talents (minas). Most of what I always remember from this parable is the guy who buried his talent in dirt and then Jesus got mad at him for not at least investing it in the bank so it could earn interest.

Our days are gifts from God. They are our talents, our minas. Are we investing them with eternity in mind, focused on earning a profit for the kingdom of God? Or are we all tied up in our daily affairs, bearing our daily pressures and our anxieties?

While Paul recognized these burdens as such with no attempt to diminish their influence on how he spent his day, he also recognized them as something which should occupy very little of his time or attention. He was about investing his day productively for the kingdom, not about investing his energies recovering from his daily pressures.

Daily affairs – burden or opportunity? Today, will you bury your time in the ground out of anxiety or will you invest it for kingdom return? Each day, the choice is ours. How choose you?

________________

© 2013 GBF

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