Today’s Scriptures: Lectionary selections from the Book of Common Prayer
Psalm 66, 67, 19, 46
What kind of relationship does God desire with me?
For many years the analogies proved to be one of the most challenging parts on the SAT. Understanding the relationships between things that do not seem to be naturally connected led to much anxiety. Proficiency with the analogies required a deep understanding of word origins, literal and implied meaning, along with types of relationships that exist. The passages today may create similar anxiety among the readers of today. Symbolism fills the language of the prophet, the teacher, and the Messiah.
Each one focuses on relationships between people and God with the relationship presented in various symbolic ways. Hosea presents the relationship between God and his people as a marriage. James discourse on the tongue includes the image of a teacher presenting truth, while the Gospel passage gives the picture of business people making drastic moves for a thing of value. Each of the encounters gives us assurance of God’s consistency across the ages.
Hosea’s adulterous wife was the people of Israel, straying from the laws of God that led them through the desert and gave them the promised land. The descriptions he provides as he pleads with the people were ones they would recognize associated with pagan worship in the region. The passage ends with him planning to take the people back to the desert where their relationship with God was strongest with a chance to heal the relationship. That is why God sent prophets – to bring the people back into a healthy relationship.
The same thing happens with teachers who are given the weighty responsibility to teach all correctly. In the Christian era, they hold responsibility for passing Christ’s truth to all people so that they may not stray from the teaching of Christ. The teacher’s charge kept the people in the right relationship with God, as did (attempted) the prophets prior to Christ. All the talk about sins of the tongue in this passage comes down to the way we worship God. We cannot praise God and curse people and remain in the right relationship with God. Our character appears in the speech we use.
Jesus uses the imagery of business as he instructs on the values of Heaven (having the right relationship with God). He gives examples of people making sacrifices to acquire items of great value. They do whatever is necessary to get the item. New Christians had to be prepared for the sacrifices they would need to make. We, too, are called to sacrifice for the kingdom of God.
God gives us the directions we need to stay in relationship with him and those directions are consistent across the generations. Keeping the commands and remaining true to the covenant God makes with us keeps us in the right relationship with the Lord. Daily challenges come our way, from the tongue to more obvious pitfalls; however, we are equipped with teaching from the Holy Spirit to act in the way that keeps us in the right relationship with God and mankind. Each of the relationships is personal and that is exactly the way God wants it with us.
Over and over we see that our relationships with God and with humankind ultimately determine our own quality of life (and eternity). God gives us the directions; we just have to read them.
Let us continue to focus on the directions we are given to maintain the relationship God desires with us.