In the US, yesterday was Constitution Day. The country is in bad shape, in part, because it has gotten away from its founding document. When people want to vote for advantages for themselves, the politicians will oblige them, because they gain power by it. The characterization of the Constitution as a living document is nothing more than an effort to circumvent its original intent and make it say what people want it to say. Others discount it as a document no longer valid for modern times, preferring to pick and choose from so-called international law or from the laws of other nations.
Some might object to my evaluation that the US is in bad shape. By nearly every index that counts, in my book, however, the country has never been worse off: in work ethic, in morality, in justice, in integrity.
Not a few good brethren have noted parallels between the political attitude toward the Constitution and attitudes toward the Bible as Christians’ founding document. The more we get away from the Bible, the worse shape we’ll be in. When people want to feed their selfish interests, religious leaders will step forward to fill their itching ears with the exact words they want to hear, promising all the privileges they seek from heaven. We rail at televangelists and other charlatans, but the people love to have it so.
Many look at the Bible as a beautiful expression of faith for the times in which it was written, but see nothing in it to suggest that it ought to serve as a model for our own walk, worship, and work. The Bible means what you want it to mean, what you find helpful, applicable, or meaningful. This is carnality at its worst. Others pick and choose from denominational creeds, Catholic observances, or even non-Christian religions to form a syncretistic personal religion. This by people who worshiped together with us for years.
The church of our Lord Jesus Christ suffers as a result. Unlike the dire predictions about the country on the part of pessimistic prophets like myself, the body of Christ will survive and, more, it will thrive as the Spirit of God breathes into it the power from on high. In many places it may wane and cease, but the Sovereign God will fulfill his plan, without us or through us. Somehow, in his providence, he will raise up men and women to carry the Good News around the world. The only question that remains, in the spiritual realm, is this: Will we be a part of that chosen group?
¶ In our American wanderings, I recently picked up a print copy of Power for Today, a brotherhood devotional publication, issue of the last quarter of 2013. I didn’t realize it was still being published. Last year was its 59th volume. Some years ago we subscribed to it in Brazil and I wrote a number of devotionals for it. 21st Century Christian publishes it.
¶ After five-plus years, I finally updated my laptop’s operating system. There is still more to update on it, but I had to buy a disk to make one jump forward, before being allowed to get completely up to date via free download on the Internet. First, I’ll beef up the memory, then make for the home stretch. Such deep tinkering with the ministry machine makes me a bit nervous.
¶ Both my sons serve, or have served, on the missions committee of the congregation where they meet. I’m glad to see they’re using their experience and education in a good way.
¶ I buy few books nowadays. But in a visit to a used bookstore, I picked up two Bible versions not available on the Internet, in mint condition, and four Bible commentaries for a great price. The two versions are the Revised English Bible and the New Jerusalem Bible, solid, scholarly translations, if on the liberal side of the scale.
One of the commentaries was Wayne Jackson’s work on the book of Acts. Mickeal Parson’s commentary on Acts in Baker’s Paideia series also made it in the shopping cart. I’m not familiar with it, but the publisher and series are interesting. Anybody have any experience with it?
¶ In Lk 11.49 Jesus quotes “the Wisdom of God.” Some see this phrase as meaning a revelation from God to Jesus, as Jesus’ way of referring to himself, much as “Son of Man,” or as a title for Jesus. No Old Testament text corresponds to the quote, so scholars shy away from equating the phrase to Scripture.
The content of the phrase refers to God’s or the Lord’s sending of “prophets and messengers” (REB) and their persecution. Judgment will fall upon this generation for their rejection of gospel. “I tell you, this generation will have to answer for it all” v. 51.
Let us not forget what comes to those who change God’s will into a system centered in self.