“If God is for us, who is against us?”
Some electric words here that could cause us some headaches.
On the one hand it has been taken to various extremes,
With a simple swapping of words, “God is for us” rather than making a question of it, we can be lead to many atrocities if not a high degree of arrogance.
To live a life feeling that “God is on our side” as opposed to any other side then a life of faith can become nothing more than a life of being a tyrant in the eyes of those around us.
Within the church sadly we even get the “God is on our side” syndrome as we become impatient with other Christians for not seeing that we are actually right.
If God is on our side then what we do, and how we behave, become a divine right, and if this is claimed and believed it does not matter what others may think of us.
On the other hand, and from a different perspective, If things don’t seem to be going well for us, then maybe we are indeed far from the truth. Our own faith is doubted because if we were “right with God” then surely we would be being blessed, or rewarded and not living in travail or suffering in various ways.
If the Victory has been won by Christ already, as Paul speaks about in today’s epistle, then the other question could be, again, why is everything still in such a mess?
There again we have to set these “electric verses” against there own context. So often we take verses and stories out of their context to try and prove a point or convince of a particular course of action.
So what about the context for Paul?
Paul had been beaten, persecuted, hated by various section of the church, especially the powerful Jerusalem church, he had certainly lost favour with the Jews for obvious reasons!, and he had spent years in prison.
Soon after all that he wrote these “electric” verses, and he was still to face even more imprisonment soon after.
[If we take the OT reading from Genesis then the story of Jacob is litered with ups and downs, he thinks he has done things right to win Rachel as his bride and finds things far different, and has another seven whole years to work for the pleasure, and again his own story with wealing and dealing with Esau and fleeing winning and losing sets the bigger story as it unfolds in Genesis against a bigger backdrop.]
[Solomon is praised for his wisdom, and we see the story being told today how he was confirmed with this quality, and yet apparently getting riches and wealth as well as a prize for seeking wisdom. Today we might say that the two go together anyway.
Never the less the stories of Solomon are again littered with gain and loss, right and wrong, reward and punishment set against the story of a nation. The nation is the subject of the story and not the characters, sometimes we forget this..]
So if God is for us…..? why should we begin to set this story in so personal a setting? Is this not to be a little presumptuous??
This could bring us back to the challenge set before us to be Christs in the world today. How do we live as if we were Christ? Or How do we be Christlike?
Jesus sets before us today the parable of the mustard seed and the small lump of leven. Both images of smallness and almost insignificance. Yet this smallness in both parables becomes the determining factor for what is to come.
The Smallest seed grows to the biggest tree, the small lump of leven raises all the mixture.
When Hannah and Simon were small they used to make “Friendship cakes” I was talking with Sonja about this this week……. (what do friendship cakes do?)
Jesus came proclaiming that the Kingdom of heaven and arrived. Some doubted this and some still do, and yet we believe we play our part in making this kingdom real and possible. We become small seeds and small speaks of yeast.
Jacob , Solomon, and Paul alike may have had good cause to doubt that God was with them or for them, and yet patience and tenacity and the big pictures show us that God is indeed there, the kingdom has come and is yet to come more.
We probably get too hung up on trying to judge things from our own “small” perspective, as though we mattered more than the big story.
I was trying to find the words to that little ditty about passing a smile on, and came across this particular phrase instead,
I wonder whether Paul, Jacob or Solomon lived like this, perhaps they did or tried to.
Do you know, it said next to the “hint” that it probably takes 7 years to achieve this!
I really do believe that nothing separates us from the Love of God, hardship, peril or sword, and I believe this same love seeks a way of showing itself to the people I meet and speak with each day.
Let us continue to be Christ’s in the world today, no matter how small we think our seed may be.