Blind Men by Sergey Ivanov, 1883.
God of power and justice, like Jeremiah you weep over those who wander from you, turn aside to other gods, and enter into chaos and destruction.
By your tears and through your mercy,teach us your ways and write them on our hearts so that we may follow faithfully the path you show us.
How I wish my people would listen to me!
How I wish Israel would walk in my ways!
Then I would subdue their enemies in a second;
I would turn my hand against their foes.
Those who hate the LORD would grovel before me,
and their doom would last forever!
But I would feed you with the finest wheat.
I would satisfy you with honey from the rock.
Psalm 81:13-16 (CEB)
It can be a comforting thought to read this Psalm and believe that as long as we are walking with and listening to God then he will fill our bellies and punish our enemies. In fact, when our bellies aren’t full or our enemies triumph the temptation is to turn outward and look for those who aren’t pulling their weight. If only they would get with the program, if only they would listen to God, if only everyone would walk in this path then God will be pleased and everything would be okay.
But, as Christians don’t we believe that victory has been achieved?
The real enemy, death, has been defeated (1 Corinthians 15:57).
The threat of scarcity has been overcome (Acts 2:42-47).
We are continually walking in the triumphal procession, in the “great cloud of witnesses”. We join in the parade for the victory of Christ by passing out the spoils of his victory and spreading the aroma of his victory. These are not earthly treasures that will rot and rust, but eternal, spiritual treasures. We proclaim that death has been defeated, we are freed from the powers that would threaten and control through the power of death. We are freed to share life, give abundantly, and serve humbly.
The way of God is to walk in the way of Jesus who has already subdued our true enemies by walking through death and triumphantly into the new life. A life not defined by death, fear and scarcity but by life, joy and abundance.
“Be appalled, O heavens, at this, be shocked, be utterly desolate, says the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water.”
Jeremiah 2:12-13 (NRSV)
In the prophecy of Jeremiah, God is calling the universe to witness how the nation of Israel has walked away from God despite God’s continual outpouring of grace, mercy and his unique loving-kindness. In a sense, God is calling the universe, the world, and it’s inhabitants as a jury or as witnesses to give testimony about the actions of Israel.
The church should be mindful of this call. The eyes of the universe, the world and our neighborhoods are upon us. Are we being conduits for the fountain of living water? Are we aware of and proclaiming God’s grace, mercy and his unique loving-kindness? Can the eyes of the universe see and the ears of our neighbors hear?
Or, do they find a church community proud of their poorly dug cistern? A broken cistern that leaks water and does not refresh. A cistern that draws in precious resources that are quickly squandered like a buried talent. Are we so proud of our cistern that we spend more time trying to plug the leaky holes with our fingers that our backs our constantly turned away from the thirsty and parched?
Are the eyes of the universe shocked by our actions?
Or, are the lips of the universe refreshed through our actions so that they might sing the praises of the fountain and source of the water we share?