Aggression, Revenge, and the Prince of Peace

devotional01.JPG

February 3

Aggression, Revenge, and the Prince of Peace ~~ Matt Fitzgerald

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." - Matthew 5:9


My mother told me this story years ago: During the run-up to the war in Iraq, a group in my hometown printed yard signs that read, "Say NO to War." Incensed, another group produced signs that said, "Say GO to War." One of her neighbors posted a "Go to War" sign in his yard. Then, a few months later while putting up his Christmas lights he placed an illuminated plastic crèche next to it.  
This is the balancing act the world asks Christians to practice: aggression, revenge and the Prince of Peace all living in brightly lit artificial unity. Of course it is impossible. So the world's solution is to reduce Jesus to decoration, while bowing down to violence. You can guess which piece of lawn art was still standing on February 2.  

We can box Jesus up and put him in the basement next to the Christmas lights, but we cannot keep him quiet. He insists, "Blessed are the peacemakers." He says it with his mouth. And then he says it with his life. Even as the world alerts us to God's absence, Jesus gives us God's presence: a new way to live, a life of uncomfortable blessings. For he promises that if we receive his beatitudes we'll be reviled, persecuted, slandered. That's life with God. Good thing the alternative is so absurd.

Prayer: Dear God, give us the courage to receive Christ's uncomfortable blessing. Amen.

 

From the United Church of Christ Still Speaking Daily Devotional.

Perfect

devotional01.JPG

January 15

Perfect – Quinn G. Caldwell

If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. From Matthew 19:16 – 22

I read this one book in elementary school about a hapless kid who's always making a mess of things. One day, he finds a guy that promises to make him perfect. Hilarity ensues. In the end, he discovers the perfect people spend all day sitting around drinking weak tea with the window shades drawn.

Which is just about what happens when people try to make themselves perfect.

A young man asks Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells them to follow the Commandments; he says he has been. Jesus tells them it's time to let God do the rest. Sell your possessions, get rid of all your stuff and all your power and all of your ability to believe you can do this on your own, he says. Trust God to do the rest. Which doesn't sound any better to the young man than it does for most of us.

Most of us want to make ourselves perfect – – which usually ends up meaning boring, tightly controlled, and disengaged. Weak-tea perfect. But Jesus isn’t offering weak-tea perfect; he's offering new-wine perfect. Burst-old-wine-skins-and-run-all-over-the-place-sustaining-everything-with-holiness perfect. Delicious, strong, brave, loud, outside, un-window shaded perfect.

Following rules will only get you so far; after that, you're going to have to let God do the rest. Which is hard, but worth it; you don't want to be the kind of perfect you could manage to achieve on your own, anyway.

PRAYER: God, help me go as far as I can, and then help me let go and let you. Amen.

 

God Is Still Speaking: 365 Daily Devotionals, ed. Christina Villa (Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2013), 17.