Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Mid-Day Devotion 1/13/10
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
We pray for the hostages --- we pray for the hostages and captives and the prisoners, all those who are taken --- those who are ripped from their lives. We pray for all those who held captive to all bondage of the body or mind, spirit or soul, whether through human trafficking or through sickness and disease or poverty. We pray for those who are persecuted, who are oppressed, those who are subjugated and made slaves, those whom acts of genocide are committed against, as they are murdered, ripped away from the only home they have ever known, ripped away from their families and friends and loved ones, those whom they care for. We pray for these people because nothing they have done deserves the pain and sorrow, the suffering and anguish they now experience. Because we know that whatever they have done with their lives, they deserve a measure of peace that transcends the hurt and the sorrow and the grim darkness that they have come to know, as everything that they ever felt peace and comfort and solace in is ripped away from them.
But then, why do we pray for those who have inflicted themselves upon others in the most brutal of ways? Why do we pray for them to come to a sense of justice, to a sense of understanding about what they are doing, about the evil and the pain they are working? Why do we pray that they will be reconciled to God when it seems that all they know, all they have done in this world is grim hatred, brutal darkness, bitter iniquity? When they have proven themselves to walk in the footsteps of the Old Adversary, our ancient foe?
We do it because as much as they know what they have done, as much as they know the evil they have inflicted, as much as they know the darkness that they bring, they, like those who crucified Christ or those who stoned St. Stephen, they know not what they do. For if they knew the true nature, the true cost, the true price of all that they bring into this world, they would have no choice but to quickly reject all the pain that they have brought.
You see, sin and iniquity separate us from God, they separate us from God because they earn us damnation and hatred and pain. And when we continue to dwell in iniquity, then we show to what our lives and our faith are truly given, for faith without works is dead. When our works are marked by evil, then it shows what our faith is truly built upon, and there it is built upon the worst that the Devil can bring, it is built upon the worst hatred that our Old Adversary can work. He captures the hearts and the souls, the spirits and the minds of people and works his way, and there they bring their death, they bring their grim hate because they have become nothing more than instruments for him. They are no different in that way from the earthquake in Haiti that is currently being battled against, they have become a natural disaster, worked in a world where the Prince of this world has a grim hold. And thus, they live in darkness, they dwell in darkness, held captive by their own nature, by their own sinful position and their own sinful place, and they are just as needing of God’s love and mercy as anybody else, more so, because as they transgress, they hurt and they harm and they cause pain to so many other people out there.
And thus we pray that they will come to a sincere sense of repentence, so that they can be reconciled to God, and shown the light of His way and His truth, of His love for them, so that they may be shown the righteousness that He brings and understand that His ways, they are not their ways, that their trust is built upon something shaky that will fall apart and that will bring them to death, that will bring them to pain and iniquity, that will bring them to the darkest places that this world has to offer and beyond. Thus we pray for their reconciliation, we pray for their redemption, so that God’s love and God’s mercy can shine forth in their lives and they can be a new creation, where they can begin to understand that sin does not have to dwell and abide and subjugate them in the most significant of ways. And thus righteousness can be worked and they can turn their back to the Old Adversary, that ancient of foes. This is why Christ tells us to pray for our enemies, that is why we are taught to love even in the hardest of times, that we may prove ourselves to be His disciples, for even as He brought truth to the Pharisees and the Saduccees, those who would seek to murder Him in the most brutal of ways as they rejected Him and the truth that He brought, He never hated them, but rather sought at every turn to convict their hearts and their minds, their spirits and their souls, so that they may truly and rightly understand the path that they have gone on and see the wrong that is being done, to see the wrong that is being done by those who subjugate and oppress, those who take prisoners and take hostages, and try to convict through His words and through that Gospel message, so that the law of the Lord that shows us where we have gone awry, where we have gone wrong, but do not condemn them but instead show unto them the mercy that Christ first showed unto us, praying that they may come to understand, that they may come to know and that they may come to faith putting behind them the things of this world, so that they may become an instrument of God’s divine will in this age and through all ages.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.