There are a number of reasons for obesity. One is the desire to eat but not exercise. The same could be said for those who inhabit the “church.” There is a desire to be “fed” but little desire to be “active.” The call to follow Jesus is an active call that demonstrates something of a feeding on the go. Maybe these reflections I wrote for my weekly email to Snow Hill will spur your imagination to participate in the activity of God for the good of the world.
One of the texts for this coming Sunday is found in Jeremiah 29. Reading the “letter” Jeremiah writes those carried off into exile in Babylon reminded me of the theme often played during worship while I was growing up. “Sure can’t wait to get out of here.” “Here” meaning out of earth and into Heaven. Some of the favorite lines from hymns were, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through.” Or, “Some glad morning when this life is over.” It was not hard to get the idea that the good earth God created was a place to flee rather than to live in.
Now there are quite a few who have come and gone predicting the coming of Jesus. I remember in Seminary getting a book titled, “88 Reasons Why Jesus Is Coming Back in 1988.” Well, if he did, some of us missed it. People have been predicting the premature return of Jesus, since, well, Jesus ascended into the Heavens. In fact, if you read the Jeremiah passage closely, including the surrounding Scriptures, you discover that people have been prematurely predicting the way God may act since at least the exile in Babylon.
It seems we cannot learn the lesson. If we knew just when God would act, we would find that our motivation for “behaving” appropriately. The lack of our certainty about such a time forces us to consider other motivations for the way we choose to live our lives. Jesus commanded that we live our lives in love for God and love for others apart from any predictive move of either the activity of God or Jesus’ own return and the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God.
One of the things I have been thinking about while reading this text this week is what it means to us to read Jeremiah telling the people to build houses and live in them and to seek the “welfare” of the city (Babylon). Are you kidding me? Babylon is code for “Harlot” and “Enemy of God and His people.” How could the prophet encourage the people to seek the “welfare” of Babylon? The word “welfare” is literally the Hebrew word, “Shalom” often translated peace. It is more than just hoping the wind is still and the water is calm. “Shalom” or “peace” may be best understood in the words of Jurgen Moltmann, a Germon theologian whom I listened to yesterday, who said, “The Kingdom of God is not a “peaceable” Kingdom, but a “peace-making” Kingdom.” The emphasis is on activity. That is “Shalom” means to work for the peace brought by the always coming Kingdom of God. You and I. Yes, the Apostle Paul wrote that we ought to live at peace with all people. That takes work. It means not only do we want to live in harmony with others, but that we will work for that same harmony for all. That is Shalom. That is peace.
Participate in this week’s sermon at Snow Hill. Leave your thoughts, reflections, objections.