Hi again! Wow. It has been nearly 2 years since I have blogged. My last official post was on November 24 of 2012! Where in the world have I been? Since I have blogged last I have worked in the Cath Lab at Parkland Memorial Hospital. It was one of the greatest experiences of my nursing career for many reasons, which I’ll probably eventually mention in future posts at some point. My attitude toward my experience there is gratitude toward Parkland and my leaders and peers.
When all was said and done at Parkland in July of 2014, I finally took a leap of faith and jumped out of nursing altogether. In the past 2 years I have candidated on and off for pastoral ministry, and I am increasingly thankful that nothing has come about yet. The reason is that in January of 2014 I started Re:Generation® at our church Watermark Community Church in Dallas.
While at Re:Generation I have learned a lot about myself, the incredible grace of God and have begun to find recovery in Christ from anger, pride, fear of man, and distrust in God. My career change came at a climax where I was finally buying into the fact that God is good and He has my best interests at heart. So I trusted Him and stopped doing a career that became an idol (which is weird because I loathed the stress that it caused!), and I started doing contracting in the construction world (which forces me to rely on the Lord for provisions for my family).
So, without further adieu my first post in nearly 2 years…
This past year my wife and I joined a small group were we have had the opportunity to share life together in a deeper way with some great folks. It has been time of relational growth, and during the past several weeks one of the guys and I challenged each other with doing a book study from the Bible. So where would we start? We started with something simple like Obadiah.
Over the past 10 days or so I have read through this book multiple times (It is only twenty something verses long). Over the course of that time it has gone from a remote sealed off “sticky page” in my Bible to a life lesson of grace. I admit, when I first read it the first few times, I could only think this books is kind of lame. Why is it here? How am I supposed to connect with this? But after the first few stabs at reading it and doing some research, I finally took some ground.
Obadiah means “Servant of Yahweh.” Nobody really knows who this servant was. The message of Obadiah was to serve the people of Edom and Israel. The message of Obadiah was one of warning to Edom. Edomites were descendants of Esau. They lived in the clefts of the rocky sandstone south of the Dead Sea. Over the centuries between Jacob and Esau’s quarrel and the time of this oracle, the Edomites and Israelites developed quite a rivalry rooted in bitterness. Just search “Edom” in Scripture and you will find the many times they tormented each other over the years.
As you read this short letter, you will find the answer to a question presented in Scripture from the very beginning, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” That question was posed way back in Genesis 4 and the answer to that question was “Yes.” You will also find an illustration of the consequences to continued neglect of broken familial relationships as they spin out of control when left unattended.
Things were not going to go well with Edom. They were coming under the judgment of Yahweh for crimes against his people. The problem is plainly stated in Obadiah 1:10. Edom violently slaughtered God’s people. What did that slaughter look like?
- They stood aloof and pretended not to know anything when their brother Israel was getting slaughtered by Babylon (vs. 11). There was a sign where I worked that basically said if you witnessed an event but did not report it then you are guilty in committing it.
- Edom exploited Israel’s injury by casting lots over the spoils of war (vs. 11). They kicked someone who was already down. They robbed someone who had been raped.
- Edom rejoiced in the suffering of God’s people (vs. 12). One of my favorite things to see in sports rivalry is for a rivaled team to lose, especially if they have beat my team. It is extremely gratifying. But rejoicing in evil against another human is intolerable in God’s eyes. We are all made in His image.
- Edom encouraged Israel’s suffering by participating in her destruction (vs 14). Edom blockaded roads to the south of Israel and prevented refugees from entering their Land, thereby sealing off their doom. Edom also took the weak as slaves.
In a nutshell, the consequence to sin is judgment. God’s justice will finally fall against those who rebel against Him and His people (vss. 15-21). And that is what we all really want right? Justice. Many critics of Scripture see God as a mean old pie in the sky who is a bloodthirsty maniac. That is a lie from Satan. The truth is that there is great relief when justice is executed. When a referee throws a flag against a player whose penalty hurt your team, there is great relief- especially if it is a game changer. Even more so, if your human rights have been violated, there is satisfaction and relief when a judge and jury arrive to the correct verdict and apply the appropriate sentence. How much more so is the satisfaction that comes when God executes evil! The result is that the Lord will reign as King (vs. 21).
Bringing it Home
So how do we take something so far and bring it near? The lesson is to pursue reconciliation with those we are at odds with and with God. We are our brother’s keeper. God will hold us to account for our relationships with others. Have you ever taken joy or smiled on the inside when someone who has hurt you falls? Have you ever pretended not to notice when someone you don’t like is violated? Have you ever personally retaliated against someone who has hurt you? I think we are all guilty of all of these in some sort of way if we are honest. When we are hurt by another, our most natural response is to retaliate against our wrongdoer. But God is calling us to do something different.
God wants us to do what is supernatural. Jesus made clear that we are to love our enemies and to pray for those who mistreat us. He is willing that none should perish but that all should come to repentance. In the world that we live, our greatest enemy is ourself and our failure to do what God is calling us to do- to make peace with our enemies. Executing justice is only half of the equation. There is a place for justice. But there is also a place for mercy for those who respond to God’s justice with repentance and change of heart. After all, that is what God has done with us in Jesus Christ.
Is there someone in your life you are at odds with? Who do you need to reconcile with today?