The truth of this maxim is well documented. Youth, under the protective sponsorship of parents and elders, feel bullet-proof and hazard everything for good times. People living in developed lands within safety nets of security and health benefits, frequently suppose that misfortune in the world is a rare phenomenon. And, as in Job’s story, men and women yet untouched by disaster feel free to pass judgment on those who are not so lucky. They show their contempt for misfortun
"'Why have we fasted,' they say, 'and you have not seen it'"(Isaiah 58:3). These are the words of the community that bears God's name. Its people think that their sacred routines services, their devotional exercises should get God's attention; get God to see how much he owes them for them piety. True worship is about drawing human attention away from itself and focusing on the might, beauty and goodness of God.
" For this is what the high and lofty One says--he who lives forever, whose name is holy: 'I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit . . .'"( Isaiah 57:15). Two ideas present themselves. First, God is great. His greatness is beyond the scope of human reason and imagination. There is an infinite chasm between what God is and what we are. When humans think that God is made in their image it is a horrible contortion of reality. The s
" How can you say, 'We are wise for we have the law of the Lord . . .? (Jeremiah 8:8) It is possible to be in possession of much religious instruction; it is possible to be the recipient or custodian of much that is good in theology---and still be a fool! How so? Because knowing about God, is no substitute for knowing God himself. The fact that I share a rich and elevated religious tradition, does not mean that I am close to God. Many deeply religious people are wicked.
“After this the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield and your very great reward.” (Genesis 15:1) “What’s in it for me?” Perhaps that is this generation’s most asked question. An activity, a project, a task or any investment of mind, means and energy, is deemed worthy, only if the resultant yield concentrates itself materially on just one person. For many, this is the precise purpose of religion: a mechanism for personal adva
“You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth . . .” (Deuteronomy 8:7,8) Within the capitalist, free-market environment, there are many ‘self-made’ men, and many who think themselves ‘independently wealthy.’ According to the Bible, no such people exist. Material prosperity never occurs except by permission. Riches accrue by reason of a
“Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the corn.” (Deuteronomy 25:4) This pithy little command is set within other instructions which include one providing that a poor man’s wage be paid before day’s end because he is poor and is counting on it. That is an ethic which seems reasonable, but why should a human being care about how an animal feels? Maybe, because humans who treat animals without regard to their sentient state, are more likely to behave capriciously and
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1) There was a beginning, and it was personal. Much depends on that being so. Human beings are not the end product of a mindless mechanical process. Intellect, calculation, evaluation, discipline, delight, joy and love—the willingness to give to another—are a reflection of ultimate reality. Existence is profoundly purposeful. There is deep reason to live, serve and love.
“The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all people. But it was because the Lord loved you . . .” (Deuteronomy 7:7,8) ‘Why do you love me?’ Requiring repeated assurances, a girl prompts her sweetheart. She never tires of hearing him list her many attractions. In this she is not unique. In relationships, both sexes assume that personal qualities of their own have won the interest
"The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain" (Genesis 6:6). It is one thing to believe in God, but what kind of God? Ancient pagan deities as well as the secular gods of the present era unfailingly reflect the self-absorption of their devotees; responding either with indifference or caprice. Only the God of the biblical tradition cares enough about the world to experience emotional pain by reason of the rebellion and folly of