Wildfires, hurricanes and floods have recently devastated areas of Canada and the United States, but earthquakes? I’m not speaking of the tremors coming from deep within the ground, but rather the tremors from the recent #MeToo movement. Reverberations and aftershocks continue following revelations of sexual harassment and abuse by high-profile entertainers, athletic personnel, politicians and religious leaders.
The church is no exception. Our churches (think NCA and MBA churches of the Northern Plains Region) are no exception. We may not be dealing with the shock of such revelations, but we all should be reevaluating our practices for protecting children, youth and adults. More than that, have we been negligent in looking the other way or perhaps even fostering environments that promote such exploitation?
Those are hard words, but the earthquakes continue and will continue.
When we take the time to humbly listen to those who have been exploited, harassed, abused, sinned against, we recognize that this is not just someone else’s problem or issue.
I’ve been in the book of Deuteronomy for my devotions. At the end of his reiteration of the law Moses instructs the people of Israel to set up stones on which they are to write Yahweh’s (the LORD’s) law after they go into the land of Canaan. Representatives of the tribes will face each other on the sides of two mountains while the Levites call out the blessings for following Yahweh’s commandments, statues and judgments and the curses for “not hearing and doing” them.
Moses details these blessings and curses further (Deuteronomy 28) before having the people reaffirm the covenant to follow Yahweh as their God (Deuteronomy 29), warning them again of the tremendous judgment Yahweh will bring upon them should they choose to bow down to other gods. The language is strong.
He uses the word “turn back/return” seven times in chapter 30: translated “call” (vs. 1), “return” (vs. 2), “restore” (vs. 3), “again” (vss. 3, 8, 9), “turn” (vs. 10) in the ESV. After all the things Yahweh brings upon them when they go after other gods, if/when they return to Him, Yahweh will return to them. The writer of Hebrews connects this with the discipline of God (chapter 12).
Will we submit ourselves to His discipline and return to Him? It comes down to our heart, a word that Moses often uses in his instructions. We are invited, like Israel of old, to choose life by loving the LORD our God, “hearing” His voice and clinging to Him alone (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).
The present time is an opportunity for real change, not brought about by our laws, but by a people who follow a different Law and Life Giver. As our society wrestles with the pain brought about by pride and exploitation, it is also watching and desperately waiting for real good news. Let us begin by listening deeply to the people wounded, to our society, to ourselves, to our Savior King.