Monday, May 30, 2011

Talking Points

When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.  -- I Kings 21:27
 Sack cloth and ashes can be a powerful means of forgiveness.  Take King Ahab and his murder of Naboth for his vineyard as an example.  When Elijah caught up to give Ahab the Lord's disciplining word that he would be eaten by dogs, Ahab turned his delight with the new vineyard to tears of deep repentance.  The Lord saw this act of contrition and changed His mind about the destruction of Ahab.

All of humankind has believed that God is a fierce and frightening force with which to be reckoned.  Sacrifices and sackcloth and offerings have been religious persons' means of trying to stay on the right side of the God, who was seen as more willing to smite than to care.  While one can certainly make out the outline of this kind of Smiting God in a lot of the Old Testament, there is a recurring theme throughout the Bible of a Caring God.  This story is but one Old Testament example.  God's heart is touched by the things we do and say.  Like any human, this touching can bring anger and outrage, or it can bring tenderness and support.  We do not walk or live with a totally vindictive God, but one who does love and care for us.  Though discipline for wrong behaviors or acts can sting, it is only a Caring God who would take the time to notice and want better for us, for us to live into beings who are better and grander than our behavior sometimes shows.  Take a look at who you are and have a talk with God about what you see.  Know that in that talking you can be something greater because of the talk. 

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