Tag Archives: judging

God’s Rescue

It’s Strictly Come Dancing time of the year again.  A delightful way to pass a Saturday evening, in my opinion.  Yet, however entertaining the dances, at the end of the night, it is actually a competition and scores are given.  There is a standard against which points are awarded – or deducted.

This week, we again get a bonus reading.  There is a choice of either a reading from the Apocrypha:

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 35:12-17 (NRSVA)

12 Give to the Most High as he has given to you,
    and as generously as you can afford.
13 For the Lord is the one who repays,
    and he will repay you sevenfold.

Divine Justice

14 Do not offer him a bribe, for he will not accept it;
15     and do not rely on a dishonest sacrifice;
for the Lord is the judge,
    and with him there is no partiality.
16 He will not show partiality to the poor;
    but he will listen to the prayer of one who is wronged.
17 He will not ignore the supplication of the orphan,
    or the widow when she pours out her complaint.

or this one from the standard Old Testament:

The Lord’s People Pray

Our terrible sins may demand
    that we be punished.
But if you rescue us, Lord,
everyone will see
    how great you are.
You’re our only hope;
    you alone can save us now.
You help us one day,
    but you’re gone the next.
Did this disaster
    take you by surprise?
Are you a warrior
    with your hands tied?
You have chosen us,
and your temple is here.
    Don’t abandon us!

The Lord’s Answer

10 My people,
    you love to wander away;
you don’t even try
    to stay close to me.
So now I will reject you
and punish you for your sins.
    I, the Lord, have spoken.

Jeremiah Prays to the Lord

19 Have you rejected Judah, Lord?
    Do you hate Jerusalem?
Why did you strike down Judah
    with a fatal wound?
We had hoped for peace
and a time of healing,
    but all we got was terror.
20 We and our ancestors are guilty
    of rebelling against you.
21 If you save us, it will show
    how great you are.
Don’t let our enemies
disgrace your temple,
    your beautiful throne.
Don’t forget that you promised
    to rescue us.
22 Idols can’t send rain,
and showers don’t fall
    by themselves.
Only you control the rain,
so we put our trust in you,
    the Lord our God.

Both of which bring us to the same place – God’s judgement of us.

We don’t like to think of judgement.   We like to think everything will be ok in the end, it won’t be as bad as we think it might be – and after all we’ve done no worse than anyone else.

Yet we will all be judged.  Judged by God against his standard.  Sirach reminds us that we can’t bribe God.  Our life is what it is.  Each one of us will have to answer for what we have done, and will be responsible.  The measure is given in verses 12 and 13.  Have we given as generously as we could?  Of our time?  Our love?  Our welcome?  Our skills?  As well as our wealth?

God has given everything we have to us.  That is the standard.

Judged against that, we all fall short.

Yet Jeremiah realises that God is also the only one who can save us.  He is our only hope.  The only one in whom we can put our trust.

Returning to Strictly, the judges don’t just give marks, but also (usually) helpful comments, pointers on how to improve, or to make the mark.  God has shown us the perfect way to live, but we continue to fail.  But we can stand with Jeremiah and say,

You’re our only hope;
    you alone can save us now. (v 8)

…and that is where Jesus comes in – God’s rescue plan to save us from ourselves.

So, yes we should consider our lives, be aware of what we have got wrong; but knowing there is nothing we can do about it, we turn and put our hope in God – the only one who can save us.

Lord,
I am very aware
of what I have got wrong,
when I have wandered away,
rejected you
and your ways.

I come before you know
in acknowledgement
and confession.

Lord,
only in you do I have any hope.
Save me,
restore me,
may I heed your ways

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Naming the Top

A small wander from my usual theme, but this is a perambulation, and this something that I  really believe needs saying…

Top Dog

This week the conversation over the “Top x Christian Blogs” broke out again, with the retweeting of this post.  This is something I feel passionate about, for the sake of the “small time” and under-appreciated blogger – but the conversation became all the more salient in the light of the controversy over whether the BBC should be playing a certain song that has made it into the Top 10 charts.  Of course in “my day” this couldn’t have happened, because only songs released on a 7″ shiny black round piece of plastic could make the charts.  The fact that songs, sometimes years old, can now make it in the charts, shows the power of a click.

But what does a click mean?  In terms of blogging stats, potentially very little.  How many times have you clicked on a post, only to realise what it was, and click straight off.  A click doesn’t show that something has been read, even less understood or helpful.  This is one reason why I find the quantifying of “top” blogs so frustrating.  Anyone can get lots of hits on their blog, but does that mean it’s “good” never mind top?  And to justify top blog by the number of followers on Twitter is ridiculous – they are not the same thing.  You may as well quantify being a good blogger by the number of swimming certificates they have!  Equally a prolific blogger (or Tweeter) does not mean a good one. It is not about numbers…  (I might have ,mentioned that?!)

But what worries me even more is that we are even talking about Top Christian Bloggers.

I’m sure Jesus mentioned something about arguing who is the greatest…

Who Is the Greatest?

46 Jesus’ disciples were arguing about which one of them was the greatest. 47 Jesus knew what they were thinking, and he had a child stand there beside him. 48 Then he said to his disciples, “When you welcome even a child because of me, you welcome me. And when you welcome me, you welcome the one who sent me. Whichever one of you is the most humble is the greatest.”    (Luke 9:46-48 Contemporary English Version)

Being Top anything is simply not a Christian concept.  We all have value and worth.  Designating anyone “Top” detracts from that.

My real concern is for those who are not on these lists – and never will be – but are doing immensely valuable work.  They may are may not meet our need, but that does not mean they are not valuable.  To say someone is not on a top blog lists runs the danger of making them and what they do appear worthless – or of less worth than those who are always designated “Top” – which is not true.  Often these lists are more about who is in the “in” crowd, not necessarily the quality of their work.

And to start judging anything is always subjective.  What I like and need is not always what you do.  We all need different things, and at different times.  By all means share a blog that is helpful to you – but please don’t designate is as top, best, greatest.  Think about the little person you may be crushing in doing so.  And I’m not talking about egos, I’m talking about people who have a real richness to share, who can quite easily feel it’s not worth it, because what they have to say is not valuable.

Please.

Can anyone persuade me otherwise??

Judgement Call – Day 8

There are some judgements we have to make in life – who to trust, what opinion to hold, what to believe…

One judgement we do not have to make is about the worth of other people.  That is a given, and where the focus takes us in today’s reading.

Yesterday, we thought about ourselves and our own intrinsic worth.  Today we consider how that works in our interactions with others.

For, if we are content within ourselves, that puts us in a different place in life.  A place where we no longer need to be judging others – because it no longer matters.  If our worth is not in “stuff”, then neither is that of others.  They  are of worth just because they are, and so we no longer need to be evaluating them and their behaviours .  They too are of intrinsic worth, and we can see that, not what they do or have.

What freedom that would bring to life, to no longer feel we are seeing how “they” measure up.  However tempting, judging others is God’s job, not ours.

Judging Others

37 Jesus said:

Don’t judge others, and God won’t judge you. Don’t be hard on others, and God won’t be hard on you. Forgive others, and God will forgive you. 38 If you give to others, you will be given a full amount in return. It will be packed down, shaken together, and spilling over into your lap. The way you treat others is the way you will be treated.

Come Lord, into our lives and into the world, that this may be so

 

Do not let dislike dominate your hearts

This year for Advent, some friends and I are using Advent and Christmas Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen.   You’re welcome to join us on this journey.  Feel free to comment here, or on Twitter using #adventbookclub