Monday, June 22, 2009

Let Me Make You Into A Great Nation

Genesis 12:1-9
The LORD had said to Abram,
"Leave your country,
your people and your father's household
and go to the land I will show you.
"I will make you into a great nation

and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,

and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you."

So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring] I will give this land." So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.
From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD. Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.
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When I read the story of Abraham’s call from God to leave his father’s house and the land of his ancestors, I remember George Sullivan OD, an optometrist from Holyoke, Massachusetts, who, together with his wife Nikki and their six children left Holyoke, Massachusetts, to find a new vocation as lay missioners in Mora County, New Mexico. George invited a young friend of his, a French teacher in the Holyoke Schools, to come with them. They found a new vocation in the shadow of the Sangre de Cristo range of the Rockies, but it took a few years longer for his friend to find his own calling.

Through Abraham, God established “a people he could call his own”; he settled them in a new land, and blessed them abundantly. Among the descendants of Abraham are David and his successors, the Kings of Israel. Also in Abraham’s line are Joseph, a carpenter from Nazareth, and his wife Mary, who gave birth to the Son of God, our Lord Jesus, the Messiah.

The tenderness of God in dealing with Abraham, our father in faith, is for us a sign of God’s faithful love. Our God is a good God, who favors and blesses his children, and it is because of God’s goodness to us that we can, in turn, be generous to our sisters and brothers. Just as God is loving and kind to us, so we are called to love others as we are loved. To be cold-hearted and judgmental with others while God is gentle and patient with us is to throw God’s gift back in his face, by living an unchristian life.
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Matthew 7:1-5
Jesus said to his disciples:
"Do not judge or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
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What the sayer of praise is really praising
Is himself, saying implicitly, “My eyes are clear.”
Likewise, whoever criticizes is criticizing himself,
Saying implicitly, “I can’t see very well,
Since my eyes are so inflamed.”
Jelaluddin Rumi (1207 – 1273)

In effect, then, all of our judgments, where positive or negative, are reflections of ourselves. The interpreters of dreams say that every element in the dream represents some aspect of one’s own self. This is not hard to accept. But it is rather more difficult to accept when someone wants to apply the same norm to our waking life as well.

Yet, even if it is true sometimes, it may not be true 100% of the time, nor always to the full degree, I should not reject the truth within in. Perhaps it is 50% of the time, or 80% -- perhaps even more! That should be sufficient to make it a useful insight, and a good check on our tendency to judge everything by our own standards, rather than His.

“Do not judge and you will not be judged,” said Jesus. “The measure you give is the measure you get.” This already puts the spotlight on the judge in each of us, suggesting like Rumi that our judging has more to do with ourselves than with the truth of things.

What or whom do you hate? Look again now. This time don’t look at the object or the person you hate, but at the hate itself. What is it about? And what are the things and who are the people you approve of? What are you really approving of? What is it about?

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