January 29, 2013 by lellielieb
I’ve been thinking lately about what it means to love the world. I have been teaching about monasticism and how it developed in the Middle Ages. Early monastics, desiring to avoid sin and live a holy life of faith, separated themselves, literally, from society by going out into the wilderness to live or cloistering themselves away in a community of like-minded brothers or sisters. My students have been very interested and they have been active in asking questions about whether or not this is a biblical life-style choice. Can we shut sin out? Can we really escape from the world? I don’t think we can. I think the world is inside us.
The story of Joseph is one of my favorites in the Bible. I love the twists and turns, the irony, the dramatic finish. Today I read about his brothers’ return to Jacob without Simeon and with orders to bring Benjamin to Egypt. I was struck by Jacob’s reaction. After all he has been through, after all he has seen God do in his life, he loses it over this. He rants and raves, he says that this will kill him. I am convicted, because in Jacob’s ranting I see my own. No matter how many times God delivers me, I quake in my boots at the possibility of new troubles. I am too tied to the things of this world. I want peace and happiness and white picket fences.
I also read the chapter in Matthew where Peter declares that Jesus is the Son of God. Just after this, the scripture says that Jesus began to teach the disciples that he had come to die. Peter goes off, just like Jacob, in fact, he takes Jesus aside and tells him to stop saying these things. He thinks Jesus is being negative. The response of Jesus is pretty firm. He says to Peter,
“Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
Even Peter, walking daily with the Lord has trouble seeing the big picture. He wants a happy life with a victorious ending here, on earth, in our world, and Jesus calls him “Satan.” I am learning that God wants my complete trust. He wants me to thank him and trust him for everything. He wants me to get to the place where I can truly say, “Thy will be done,” and mean it. It’s hard.
I also read this beautiful passage from Habakkuk 3 this morning. I’m taking it with me during the day, I’m asking God to make the words my own, and to help me roam the heights:
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19 God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.