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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 201: A hard act of love

Today's Reading: Hosea 8-14

The LORD says,
"Worshiping other gods is like worshiping the wind.
It is like planting worthless seeds."

My daughter was riding in the subway and overheard a conversation, a modern conversation. The group of people was proclaiming their "diversity." One said, "I think the Bible is a good book but its just and only that. It is not sacred at all." Another proclaimed, "Jesus was a good man, perhaps even a wise prophetic voice, but he was not God. There is no god." Yet another jumped in with, "We all just need to find a religion or some sort of spirituality that works for us. They're all the same. There is no one true god or one true path. Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad, Krishna, Confucius...it doesn't matter...bottom line, there is no difference. Worship whomever you want."

In a culture of diversity and tolerance, in a country that lifts up freedom of religion, in a post modern age, these statements are common, not only in subways but in main line churches. Interfaith dialogue and acceptance are the direction our society is going. And many Christian churches and pastors are encouraging it.

It is easy to get swept up in the syncretism. After all, we are a democracy and each citizen has the "right" to chose and worship as each pleases. It is good not to want to kill or destroy an individual or a people group just because they disagree with you.

And so, most of us either join the main stream of thought or keep our mouths closed to avoid conflict or sounding superior. We certainly wouldn't want either.

But today's scripture, in fact, all of the Kings, Chronicles and Prophets challenge this syncretistic malaise. According to the scriptures, God is not for diversity when it comes to worship. God claims over and over and over and over that the LORD, YHWH, the God of Israel, is the one and only god, and that to worship or pray to any other is absolutely useless, a waste of time.

Does this mean if we love God and our neighbor that we at least venture to proclaim to even our best friends, our closest associates, our family members who might be pursuing other religions and gods that they are wasting their time? Would we tell someone we loved they were driving the wrong direction, that the pills they were taking were placebos, that they were investing in a known money pit? Would we dare love someone enough to show them this passage in scripture? Do we dare love God enough to speak up? Do we even believe this or do we set it aside as a ranting and raving of a prophet long ago?

I believe it.

And believe me, it is hard to speak the truth to someone you love who has worshipped another god or who has no god.

It is a hard act of love.

Of neighbor.

And God.

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