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Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 234: Gentle Jesus Meek and Mild?

Today's Reading: Jeremiah 49-50

In 1792, Charles Wesley, the founder of Methodism, wrote a poem found in his work, Hymns and Sacred Poems. The first few lines are this:
Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,
Look upon a little child;
Pity my simplicity,
Suffer me to come to Thee.

Whether it was this poem, paintings or sermons which lifted up Jesus as friend,---gentle, kind, easy going, non abrasive,---many often refer to the "God of the New Testament" as some further "evolved" God who looks longingly at us with wavy brown hair and reverent, waxy eyes.

They seem to think that the "God of the Old Testament," whose wrath demands justice and holiness, some how was shelved or retired for some newer, less clunky model of God.

Many Christians refrain from reading the Old Testament to avoid the militant, angry God who goes around destroying idolaters and wiping out entire cities of sinners. Some even believe in their hearts that God and Jesus are two entirely separate beings which can be dissected one from the other. Or perhaps they believe God to be schizophrenic with a multiple personality disorder.

For these people, reading the Old Testament truly is a spiritual discipline. In fact, many "read" it by skimming through it, trying to avoid yet another battle or flood, famine or drought. Though they give the Old Testament their time, they do not give it the ears of their heart.

Yet, God claims to be the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow. And Jesus claims, "I and the Father are one." If this is true, and I believe it is, Jesus is just as concerned about justice, holiness and righteousness as the Father, and the Father is just as concerned about mercy, forgiveness and compassion as the Son.

I believe, once we hit the New Testament in this disciplined reading, we will discover that Jesus is not "Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild," except.....except when it comes to the same folks with whom his Father is especially gentle.

In the midst of all the slaughter and disaster of God's vengeance, we read these words from the mouth of God.
"Leave your orphans; I will protect their lives.
Your widows too can trust in me."

The weak, the helpless, the very young and the very old all seem to have a special place in God's heart, whether God reveals himself in the Old or New Testament.

With this in mind, I pray the prayer with my brother, Charles Wesley.
Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,
Look upon a little child;
Pity my simplicity,
Suffer me to come to Thee.

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