The central theme of all of the readings this week is the contrast between those who follow God’s ways and those who don’t. How we choose to live has consequences. We have been given, in the Scriptures and in Christ’s example, a picture of the kind of life that brings about greater wholeness and joy for those who live it. But we have also been given a picture of the pain that results when we reject God’s ways. This leaves us with a simple choice of which way we will choose to follow.
Jeremiah speaks of how those who turn away from God and trust in their own human strength are cursed, but those who trust in God are like trees planted near a river which are filled with life, green leaves and lots of fruit. This same metaphor is picked up in Psalm 1, where those who trust in God’s law and follow it are like healthy, living trees, while the wicked are cursed.
In Luke, Jesus speaks of how those who are poor, hungry, and weeping are blessed by God, while those who are rich, prosperous, laughing, and praised will experience woe. It is significant that Jesus’ definition of blessing and curses, and what brings about those conditions, is very different from the Old Testament picture, or at least how those Old Testament pictures are usually interpreted. Finally, Paul compares those who believe in resurrection with those who don’t, declaring that followers of Jesus who do not believe in a resurrection, or whose faith only has value for his life, are to be pitied, but those for whom resurrection is a reality, know that faith reaches beyond our current mortal life. Ultimately, all of these passages call us to a choice between trusting our own strength, wisdom, and ways of being, or embracing the way of Jesus.
May our worship this week lead us deeper into the way of Jesus in practical world-changing ways.