Monday, April 19, 2010

Unity of the Body


Zac Hicks has an intriguing analysis of the value of using the Common Lectionary as an aid to Bible study and worship. He rightly points out that this is one tool of the Holy Spirit to knit the scattered bones of the church back together as so many read, study, pray and worship around the same texts week by week.

It is also a way to be joined together in ordering our time, all of us dancing to the same delight in the same celebrations throughout the year; all of us pacing to the measure of His work rather than to the commemorations of our various States or to purely personal memorials and agendas.

I have been working on a cycle of daily Bible studies based on the daily readings from the Lectionary. The set for Lent is complete, and will soon be available for personal or group study. Below is a sample lesson. I'd love to hear your comments. Is it clear? Easy to use? Does it draw out the themes that echo among the Old and New Testament readings for the day?

Thursday: Beloved Enemies

Readings

Ps. 35, 148; Romans 11:25-36; Deuteronomy 30:11-20

Discussion & Study

1. What point does Moses emphasize about the Law in Deut. 30:11 – 14?

2. Where does David turn for justice when he is oppressed, according to Ps. 35?

3. Who were David’s most painful enemies according to Ps 35:12 - 17?

4. On what basis does he make his plea? Why can he expect God to take up his case?

5. Who had become the enemies of God’s people in Paul’s day (Rom 11:28)?

Comments

Our worst enemies are the ones we helped and trusted. The ones we counted as friends or family. David’s anguish is increased by the nearness of his enemies. But in his pain, he does not take matters into his own hands.

David pictures himself in the Court of Heaven. He asks for the Judge to plead his cause on the basis of His covenant, and proceeds to give evidence of his oppressors’ abuse of that covenant. He lays before God, his complaint and trusts in God’s justice and mercy. He calls for God’s punishment on the wicked and His defense of the righteous, but David understands that, particularly in the case of once-friend enemies, he himself might not know who the wicked are. “Judge me,” he says.

God knows not only the outward violations, but the inward ones as well. He knows the particular wounds and rottenness in the oppressor’s heart. He is the only one who can truly mete out justice. But God’s purposes in His justice go far beyond simple retribution. His justice not only gives the wicked his just desserts and the oppressed relief, but it produces restoration of the offender.

Israel in Paul’s day had become the enemy in God’s bosom and the God-fearing Gentiles had taken David’s place. Paul exhorts these Gentile converts to take up David’s wisdom. For God is not merely shaming and confounding covenant-breakers, but He is preparing an unprecedented union as well. Because of God’s rejection of Israel, both Israel and non-Israel know the wrath of God, so that those physical descendants of Abraham and those spiritual descendants of Abraham who fear God will be unified by their experience of God’s grace.

They will all be Israel together, beyond all pettiness, beyond all betrayal, beyond all pain.

Does one near you oppress you? Do not seek revenge. Lay your complaint before God, who is just beyond Justice. His grace will not gloss over wickedness; will not merely excuse the destroyer. But His justice will produce real healing and real unity.


7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Kim,

Christ is risen!

You asked for comments about the Bible study you have written. Before commenting, I would like to know the intended purpose--what do you hope will happen for those who use this Bible study?--and the intended audience (age, life situation, etc.).

One question: Isyour study attempting to unite the study of the Scriptures with the season of the Church calendar. So, for example, as you wrote the studies for Lent, were you intending to think about the scripture in light of the Lenten season? (I don't know if I am being clear...)

In Christ,
A reader

Anonymous said...

Dear Kim,

One more thing--this website was particularly interesting and helpful to me when I started using the lectionary.

http://www.kencollins.com/readings/about.htm

He has a lot of great helps regarding the Christian year, as well.

In Christ,
A reader

an said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
an said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kim Anderson said...

Thanks for taking the question seriously! I wrote this series for small groups. And yes, I wanted to shed some light on the season from the Scriptures that the lectionary selected for that time.

Thanks for the tip about lectionary resources.

Anonymous said...

Dear Kim,

We in our family continue to pray daily for you, as do all the members of our church. I will be making a donation to the Susan G. Komen Walk in your honor.

For your reading enjoyment, in light of the Feast of Pentecost, here is an ancient poem about the feast.

In Christ,
A reader

When the most High came down and confused the tongues,
He divided the nations;
But when he distributed the tongues of fire
He called all to unity.
Therefore, with one voice, we glorify the All-holy Spirit!

Kim Anderson said...

Love the Pentecost poem, anonymous!

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