It flows from the lips of a variety of religious people, “Don’t worry, God will provide.” Really…Just how does that happen?
I’m perplexed by people who understand God actively making thing happen in our world. Is God reaching down and moving a Pawn or a Knight, as if life were a chess game? I am aware that the Bible often speaks of a very interventionist God. My personal favorite story has God lengthening a day so that the Israelites would have more sunshine to kill their enemies in battle.
Joshua 10:12-14 (NRSV) 12 On the day when the LORD gave the Amorites over to the Israelites, Joshua spoke to the LORD; and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and Moon, in the valley of Aijalon.” 13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in midheaven, and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. 14 There has been no day like it before or since, when the LORD heeded a human voice; for the LORD fought for Israel.
Wow, did you miss this story in Sunday School? The story of God giving more sunshine so there would be more time to kill people! Do you believe in such an interventionist God? Some Christians assume prayer works this way. Ask God for what you want and “poof”…it happens. Many faithful loving people, pray and pray, for healing and it never happens, while others who don’t believe in God get cured of cancer…Just how does God provide? How does God intervene? Does God intervene?
This past Sunday the first Sunday of Advent I embraced Jesus’ works from Luke that “Heaven and Earth will pass away, but not his words” (Luke 21:33) Jesus’ words are eternal! Can God provide for humanity through the words of Jesus?
With one caveat. The words are useless if not lived. We are the living words of Jesus. God provides for all of humanity. Those who follow Jesus seek to live Jesus’ teachings, Jesus’ words. Being the Living Words of Jesus involves constant daily attention. It is not a simple task. It takes effort, persistence and a determination to seek a deeper level of living.
God has provided. This earth produces enough abundance for all people. Our egos and fears get in the way of distributing this abundance for all God’s people. I don’t believe in an interventionist God that will fix the world when we have the ability and capacity to do it. I don’t need big daddy in the sky to fix thing that people have created. God has created us in God’s image to manage and bless the whole creation.
Although Heaven and Earth pass away I believe the word of God is eternal. This eternal word is centered in love, God’s love, AGAPE. The New Testament authors had an understanding that we have that ability to love as God loves. To a group of conflicted and fighting Christians in the town of Corinth, St. Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians, “I will show you a more excellent way”, (1 Cor. 12:13). That way, is the way of love. I doubt Paul would commend this “way” to the early arguing Christians if he did not think they could live it. Paul ends his description of “the way”, with a familiar phrase often read at weddings. It is great advice to newlyweds, and to all people, but especially to arguing people, “Faith, Hope, and Love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” And that love is not a feeling, but an action to be empathetic, caring, considerate, gracious, and cooperative in the midst of arguments. In a divided nation we need that mutual respect of one another.
In Advent we remember Emmanuel, “God is with us”. God is with us to PROVIDE! God provides through people living the teachings of Jesus. Not easy! But very necessary in our world.
As we seek to follow the words of Jesus we become “the living words of Jesus”. Join that Journey and seek to learn to love like Jesus!