The Horror of Life

This is the text of my Daily Devotions for our Circuit website for today, focussing on Readings from the Life Journal Reading Plan, today 2 Samuel 13-14 and Matthew 24.

This is the video version if you would prefer to listen to it:

The readings from 2 Samuel recount the horrific events of the rape of Tamar. Not what we want for our daily edification! Tales of horror in the bible always seem so shocking – I can get enough of that on the news of life today. I don’t know about you, but I was hoping for something gentle, and sustaining today. Something peaceful that I could rest in.

And yet…

The bible has all life. I guess the very reason I was hoping for something positive is the reason such things are in the bible. It is about real people. It is not a sanatised version of history showing us only how people behaved well, but also their cruelty and horror as well. Because that is human life. It is an account of people, who sometimes did amazing things for God and their fellow human – and at other times got things very wrong and caused damage and distress. Human beings have long been cruel, stupid, thoughtless and wandered a long way from God.

But the fact that these things are here in the bible does not mean that God approves of the acts of violence. Their inclusion in the bible is not saying this is ok, but shows how very wrong humans can get it, how people think it is ok to lie and manipulate and do the very worst of crimes. There is a cycle that continues throughout the Old Testament: the people think God is amazing, they follow God’s ways, something else seems more attractive, they live a long way from how God would want, and eventually somone comes along who points them back to God, they realise what they have done, come back to God, but soon start the cycle again. That is human life.

Which is pretty much echoed in the reading from Matthew 24. After warnings about all kinds of strange and terrifying things that will happen in the end times we come to the question of the faithful or unfaithful servant.

One has been put in charge of looking after and feeding the other servants. But what will they do when they think no one is looking? How will they behave when the overseer is not there?

Will they behave with integrity and care? Or will they do their own thing, meet their own wants and needs?

This is the challenge for us. This is not a passage that is about sitting comfortably looking at others behaviour and smugly judging it. I can be so easily get distracted from God’s ways. So what about me? How do I behave? Perhaps if I think God is not looking, or if I forget, or get wrapped up in my desires over God’s? Do I do the right thing? It might not seem as horrific a thing as rape, but do I always do the right thing where I could? Or do I scheme, manipulate and do all I can to make what I want to happen be? It is in that kind of behaviour that others get hurt and damaged – and it doesn’t do the perputrator much good either.

We have the chance, through what Jesus has shown us in his life and death, to be the Faithful Servant, to live God’s ways every day, for that to become such an ingrained part of our behaviour. We have seen God’s ways lived out through Jesus. Can I live in that way? Will I?

When I see the horrific way that humans sometimes behave towards one another, can I choose to do the right thing, to live God’s way?

Lord,
human beings are such amazing creatures.
We can do so much good
and yet at other times do so much harm.

Forgive me
the times I have got things very wrong,
focussed in what I want
rather than on what you ask of me
and what is best for others.
Forgive me when I loop between the two.

Lord,
may my focus,
my reason for being
be to live like you
with your heart and your mind.

May I be faithful.
Always for you.

And the song suggestion:

~ by pamjw on May 7, 2021.

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