For Sunday, February 17, 2013
First Sunday in Lent
When I read this week’s first passage, Deut. 26:1-11, I thought about how a postmodern skeptic might react to it. “What’s this talk about God giving land to one people over another? The only reason people have land is because they’ve taken it from someone else! It’s not pretty but there it is.”
Accepting postmodern premises I would be forced to agree. With God out of the picture the Israelites took their “Promised Land” from the Arabs who were living there, and the Arabs who were living there took it from someone else before them, and so on, all the way back to, well, I suppose, the first fish to crawl out of the water.
Yet it is the postmodern premises which I question. On what basis has God been removed from the picture? Is it that he’s not scientific? He claims to be the creator of science along with everything else. Is it that he’s not secular? He claims to have come down to earth and walked among us. Is it that He’s just implausible? Given an anti-supernatural starting point, sure, but stepping back yet again, on what basis was this starting point established?
An alternative to all of this would be to entertain the premise that God really does exist and that what is written about him and by him and about us in the Bible is true. The story is one of a people gone astray and a God working to deliver them from the consequences of their actions. It’s a story of a God who has seen our “affliction, toil, and oppression” (Deut. 26:7) and wants to remedy them by giving us relief, rest, and liberty.
“Well then,” responds the skeptic, “on what basis was this story established?” I would suggest three: the creation of the world, the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and the testimony of our own consciences. This is a story that we can enter the moment we believe in our hearts that Jesus is Lord (Rom 10:9, 10).
If you are reading this today and haven’t yet entered the Christian story, I invite you in, at least for a short visit. If you are already here, then let us embrace this story together with all of our time, talent, and treasure, that we might make our world the Promised Land it once was and is yet intended to be.