Sunday, October 29 was Reformation Sunday. Annually, we remind ourselves the church is the body of Christ and the head of the church is Christ but the parts, the members are humans.
We humans are selfish, vengeful, in a word, sinful. The Reformation has several striking “moments” especially Martin Luther nailing his 95 statements of faith on a church door, a normal part of publicizing theological discussions and debates.
That same day, Oct. 31, 1517, he mailed a letter of complaint to his Bishop. The church was raising money for rebuilding St Peters basilica and Rev. Dr. Luther objected to the practice.
500 years have passed since that one of many moments. World-wide, we Christians have splintered the church, the body of Christ, into (33000+) thousands of denominations. Each time we splinter or reunite we do so to preserve truth about God, Jesus Christ and the movement of the Holy Spirit past, present and forever. Why the constant change? We are sinful.
The truth of God is sometimes hard for us to grasp. God calls us to remember whose we are, that every breathe we take is from God the Creator. We are redeemed by Christ Jesus and led by the Holy Spirit. Do we follow poorly? Yes. Do we willfully push others off God’s path? Yes.
Yet, thankfully, God is slow to anger and quick to forgive. Jonah was reluctant to speak to Nineveh the enemy of Israel, but finally he spoke, and the people heard, including the king. Nineveh repented and believed. God, changed God’s mind.
Jonah’s complaint? 4. 2: “…you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing.” Jonah wanted his enemies to suffer and die – Jonah wanted revenge.
The Old and New Testament proclaim God’s grace and mercy time and again. Time and again this infuriates God’s people. For God is quick to relent and is full of grace and mercy. Punishment is not what God desires – turning back to God and into full relationship is what God seeks.
Relationship and not revenge. Our culture has fallen into a pit of revenge seeking. We call for every mistake to be paid for in blood – fire them – revile them – shame them – imprison them! Revenge.
God has called us to repent and return. Be one with God and with each other. Today, read the news, cruise through social media and especially while watching television – how often is revenge the modeled behavior? Police shows, mysteries, romances, soap operas, especially the news, focus on revenge. God calls us to seek and serve God and each other. There is no room or time for revenge, in God’s call.