Suggested Scripture Reading – 2 Peter 3
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18
Our World Belongs to God – Preamble Article 6
We rejoice in the goodness of God,
renounce the works of darkness,
and dedicate ourselves to holy living.
As covenant partners,
set free for joyful obedience,
we offer our hearts and lives
to do God’s work in the world.
With tempered impatience,
eager to see injustice ended,
we expect the Day of the Lord.
We are confident
that the light
which shines in the present darkness
will fill the earth
when Christ appears.
Come, Lord Jesus.
Our world belongs to you.
After reading statement six of Our World Belongs to God a self-professing Christian student says to me, “This statement assumes we want to see injustice ended.” Being rather surprised at this reaction I said, “That’s a valid assumption, is it not?” She says, “Meh, I think truth be told, when we look at the world a lot of us tend to look at it more like Jonah looked at the city of Nineveh.”
For those of you not familiar with the Biblical story of Jonah it might be worth retelling to understand this student’s statement. The story of Jonah begins with God telling Jonah to go to Ninevah and tell the people that there will be consequences for their lives of selfish injustices (sin). Jonah doesn’t want to go because…he knows the people might repent (see the devotion from last week) and he doesn’t want good news for his enemies. After God turns Jonah around and the people of Nineveh do hear the word from God, they do in fact repent and God restores them. And Jonah, the man from God isn’t happy about their restoration; Jonah wasn’t interested in justice, he was interested in retribution.
So what are we interested in today?
The final statement of the preamble for Our World Belongs to God is a confident statement of dedication to a life of partnering with God in the pursuit of all that is good. The Biblical narrative gives us a vision of goodness, a standard by which we attempt to live. We must however, understand that the covenant partnership is not between equals. We impatiently work towards a vision of God’s kingdom because we eagerly long for a world where all things are put to rights; the new heaven and earth. But any hopes we have, any justice we pursue, and any dreams we live into must be tempered with the realization that we are a part of a bigger unfolding story of God that we don’t always understand.
The beauty of the covenant partnership is that we have the assurance that God knows, holds and works out the things we don’t understand. The promise is that God, in Jesus, will both continue and finish the work of redemption, a work we know best in Jesus’ victory over death. And so we, as the statement says, live in joyful obedience, because we trust that God is good to his word.
But it is an act of trust to be sure. And trust we must when we find ourselves feeling like Jonah. When people don’t believe in God as we do, it’s easier to proclaim judgment on them than to consider what it means to befriend them. When a shooter invades parliament it’s easier to condemn those the shooter claimed to support than it is to consider what it means for us to get to know our neighbours. When there are people who are living down and out in our country and on our streets, it’s easier to say “their choices put them in that position,” than it is to invite them into our homes for a meal. God asked his covenant partner Jonah to enter into an uncomfortable place because God’s good grace can enter into any situation no matter how chaotic. Somehow the places that God calls each of us into, even when it’s uncomfortable and challenges our assumptions, are a part of what it means to live in a world that belongs to God.
And when we’re in these places, we say “Come, Lord Jesus.”
Good God, we are eager for the day of the Lord, when all things will be put to right. But in our tempered impatience we ask for your Holy Spirit to guide us as we partner with you in the work of today. Amen