Those who live for God, live with other people and live in the activities of their community. Their life is what they do.
Those who live with God also live for Him, but they do not live in what they do for Him, they live in what they are before Him. Their life is to reflect Him by their own simplicity and by the perfection of His being reflected in their poverty.
Those who live in God do not live with other men or in themselves still less in what they do, for He does all things in them. --Thomas Merton. Thoughts in Solitude
1 We thank you, God, we thank you--
your Name is our favorite word;
your mighty works are all we talk about.
2-4 You say, “I’m calling this meeting to order,
I’m ready to set things right.
When the earth goes topsy-turvy
And nobody knows which end is up,
I nail it all down,
I put everything in place again.
I say to the smart alecks, ‘That’s enough,’
to the bullies, ‘Not so fast.’”
5-6 Don’t raise your fist against High God.
Don’t raise your voice against Rock of Ages.
He’s the One from east to west;
from desert to mountains, he’s the One.
7-8 God rules: he brings this one down to his knees,
pulls that one up on her feet.
God has a cup in his hand,
a bowl of wine, full to the brim.
He draws from it and pours;
it’s drained to the dregs.
Earth’s wicked ones drink it all,
drink it down to the last bitter drop!
9-10 And I’m telling the story of God Eternal,
singing the praises of Jacob’s God.
The fists of the wicked
are bloody stumps,
The arms of the righteous
are lofty green branches.
9-20 So where does that put us? Do we Jews get a better break than the others? Not really. Basically, all of us, whether insiders or outsiders, start out in identical conditions, which is to say that we all start out as sinners. Scripture leaves no doubt about it:
There’s nobody living right, not even one,
nobody who knows the score, nobody alert for God.
They’ve all taken the wrong turn;
they’ve all wandered down blind alleys.
No one’s living right;
I can’t find a single one.
Their throats are gaping graves,
their tongues slick as mudslides.
Every word they speak is tinged with poison.
They open their mouths and pollute the air.
They race for the honor of sinner-of-the-year,
litter the land with heartbreak and ruin,
Don’t know the first thing about living with others.
They never give God the time of day.
This makes it clear, doesn’t it, that whatever is written in these Scriptures is not what God says about others but to us to whom these Scriptures were addressed in the first place! And it’s clear enough, isn’t it, that we’re sinners, every one of us, in the same sinking boat with everybody else? Our involvement with God’s revelation doesn’t put us right with God. What it does is force us to face our complicity in everyone else’s sin.
God Has Set Things Right21-24 But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.
25-26 God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public—to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured. This is not only clear, but it’s now—this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness.
27-28 So where does that leave our proud Jewish insider claims and counterclaims? Canceled? Yes, canceled. What we’ve learned is this: God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. We’ve finally figured it out. Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade.
29-30 And where does that leave our proud Jewish claim of having a corner on God? Also canceled. God is the God of outsider non-Jews as well as insider Jews. How could it be otherwise since there is only one God? God sets right all who welcome his action and enter into it, both those who follow our religious system and those who have never heard of our religion.
31 But by shifting our focus from what we do to what God does, don’t we cancel out all our careful keeping of the rules and ways God commanded? Not at all. What happens, in fact, is that by putting that entire way of life in its proper place, we confirm it.
Today's Lenten Activity:
Read John ch 7-9
Daily Lent readings and activities at: