Seeker: “You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him; stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!”
Preacher: Are you intending this as a call to current believers or a retrospective on what was in the past, Seeker?
Seeker: True, it does call out to the ancient called and chosen people. But it could be to the current generation – if they consider themselves offspring of Jacob and Israel. There are so many threads of Christian from so may cultural heritages. There was a time we could talk about having the same spiritual forebearers and ancestors, but even that is stretching the connections now. I am not saying this is a bad thing; far from it. I think this is what Jesus Christ and the Divine intended. It is just that our common frame of reference is getting thin and sparse. Praise the Divine for the translators and preachers who take up the delicate and important task of presenting the Word of the Lord God to believers throughout the global community!
Preacher: My simple question sparked something in you, didn’t Seeker?
Seeker: I guess it did Preacher. I know when I first came to faith, I wondered what some of the passages meant when they harked back to the time Old Testament. The New Testament seems easy to grasp. But the Old Testament seemed to concern a people so long past that I wondered at times what I had in common with them. And the Yahweh they worshiped.
Preacher: I know what you mean, Seeker. I sometimes wonder too if the story of the ancient called and chosen people is a story of people going astray, or people finding a new way to believe in the Divine. It seems best to think of it a both.
Seeker: Then there is the challenge of deciding if God’s wrath or mercy is the take away from the stories.
Preacher: “For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him.”
Seeker: “From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will pay before those who fear him.”
Preacher: “The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD. May your hearts live forever!”
Seeker: It is good for me to remember that King David showed the heart and temperament of a man after God’s own heart. And yet David made mistakes in his life but ultimately did not keep him from the Divine.
Preacher: David’s life is a good example of the Lord God’s wrath tempered by mercy and love. “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him.”
Seeker: “For dominion belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations. To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, and I shall live for him.”
Preacher: You said an interesting thing, Seeker. That a common Christian heritage is harder and harder to envision. I am sure the disciples/apostles felt the same way. When the gospel and faith spread to the Gentiles, the Jews had to work to accept it. In our modern times, we seem to have an easier time accepting the presence of Christianity in cultures far from the northern western hemisphere. But at the same time we have a hard time accepting people who live out their Christianity in ways that seem to conflict with each other. For all that we have moved forward, we have not gotten any better at accepting diversity in Christian beliefs. Admittedly some ways that people live out their Christian lives chafe. And that chafing irritates; and the irritation causes conflict, aggression, hate and violence. We can see that and acknowledge it. I have to wonder at times if we compromise our Christian ideals when we are too judgmental of other Christians.
Seeker: Preacher, as always, you raise uncomfortable questions that strike at the conscience and force us to reflect on what we have done, for good or ill; and what we should do to live a better Christian life.
Preacher: “Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord, and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, saying that he has done it.” (Psalm 22:23-31)
Seeker: Shalom & Selah, Preacher, Shalom & Selah!