Scripture Reflections – Sunday, October 6th, 2013

HB 1:2-3; 2:2-4; 2TM 1:6-8; 13-14; LK 17:5-10

Bible scholars have pointed out that this Sunday’s reading from the book of Habakkuk is a first for the inspired writers. Foreshadowing a theme that will become predominant in the wisdom books that would be written a century or two after him, Habukkuk openly calls into question God’s intentions: “How long, O LORD? I cry for help but you do not listen.” (To see where this trend eventually reached its’ fruition, read the book of Job or Ecclesiastes.)

There is a terrible misunderstanding of Faith that equates questioning and doubting with disbelief. Our ancestors in faith, the ancient Hebrews, would have looked at such an idea as absurd. As a study of the Hebrew scriptures will reveal, their whole history was a struggle to believe. And in case one is tempted to think that we Christians are above such struggles, talke a look at the last chapter of Matthew’s gospel where, even after having experienced the Resurrection, the apostles assempled on the mountain top wiht the risen Jesus, “worshipped, but doubted.”

It would be hard for me to imagine – and maybe this reveals more about my own spiritual state than about the truth – how a compassionate Christian or Jew who really believes in the palbable presence of a loving God could look at the deep misery of the world and not wonder from time to time if God has his divine head on straight.

I look at it this way: When God decided to create human beings with free will, God had to know that the Holocaust in Nazi Germany was coming. And yet, God still thought that allowing human beings to freely choose to do good or evil was a good idea. For a moment, I stand with Habukkuk, scratching my head. Could we really be in the hands of a divine lunatic?

But then another idea occurs to me, as must have to Habukkuk and his fellow believers in the Covenant. Couldn’t it also be that the gift of Free Will is a tremendous act of Faith? Not on our part, but on God’s. Perhaps God sees in us a glory, and a capacity for goodness and kindness, that we often (usually?) don’t see in ourselves.

What might the world look like if we saw it, too?

Jim Philipps
(3rd millennium pilgrim)

To locate book-length versions of my writings, click here:

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