I wrote the following to a friend this mourning and thought I would share it with the rest of you. (with a few edits) It is about me, not him, so no worries on confidentiality. Read this as a letter to a friend.
...But to be fair, I am a bit cynical in some respects. It is something I reflect on fairly often with the Spirit in my quiet times. How does one see the world as it really is... ideally through His eye's, and not become cynical?
I was visiting a church the other day and they were preaching on God's immutability. Malachi 3:6a was referenced. “I the LORD do not change."
Clearly there was nothing wrong with what was being preached. And God's character was being made appropriately relevant to the hear and now. But like usual I briefly scanned the rest of the chapter, and a problem immediately jumped off the page.
The issue I saw was not necessarily one for any given church, or any given sermon, but rather concerns our shared Evangelical culture. The issue that leaped off the page at me was what we preach, thematically speaking, over the course of a year, and what does not get preached over the course of a year.
Malachi 3 is a perfect example of this.
(Go ahead and read it here, it won't take long.)
Things more than likely preached over the course of a year.
Mal 3:5a - sorcerers, adulterers are evil - check
Mal 3:6 - God does not change- Check
Mal 3:8-9 - Tithe - Check
Mal 3:17-18 - God's Compassion - Check
What got skipped?
The latter half of Mal 3:5 - "So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the LORD Almighty."
As I study the law though a Kingdom of God lens, reflecting theologically and spiritually, it is not the grave injustices that bother me. Those are immoral on their face and can be rectified.
Rather it is the insidious nature of our more boring laws and policy in the area of economics, contracts and property. Too often these laws are used and manipulated by the powerful to effectively enslave and oppress the widow and the fatherless, deprive foreigners of justice, and defraud laborers of their wages. And this goes on while too many Christians sit in their comfy 84th St. Churches, (blog readers: these are the quintessential suburban churches in a particular town.) listening to what their itching ears want to hear... all of which is true and accurate... while skipping some of the parts of the Bible that are most relevant to the world as it really is.
Having made that observation. I should add that in my quiet time before God, I try very hard to flip the script and see what I am missing in my life. The observation has been made that if God hates all the same people I hate, there is a good chance that I have made God in my image; a fact as true for "liberals" as for "conservatives." What I ought to do is stop and ask myself, what issues has my soul become hard to, or what am I simply ignorant of? It is hard, but I try. Or more accurately, what I need to do is STOP trying, (in my own strength) and let God be God, let him show me what he wants me to see. This I often fail to do.
The problem is that in the face of the poor, and in the themes of what gets preached and what does not, I see an invitation to cynicism that I don't think is wholly undeserved. But that is an excuse. Lord have mercy on me a sinner.