Whoever is not against us is for us.
The words Bible and bibliography come from the Latin word biblia. Although we hear it in the singular, and think of the Bible as a single book, the first uses of the word biblia were plural. The Bible was, in essence, an entire library of our experience with God. It is full of histories, poetry, prophecies and letters all written in different times, to different people, and sometimes even in different languages.
If we are for peace, we will find the words of peacekeepers. If we believe the time has come to draw a line in the sand, we will find Jesus drawing in the sand, and rulers determined to go to war. It is difficult, perhaps even impossible, for us to be a neutral reader.
There will always be verses we like and verses we would rather ignore. The verse chosen for today's meditation is one I always like to take to heart. The reading for tomorrow—about faith, hope and love—is the exact opposite of today's; although both are spoken by Jesus, the latter is one I wish the editors could have buried in another text. To reconcile them in my own heart requires a bit of a search.
It does not take long for me to recognize that I will inevitably have to decide if those I work with, meet, and sometimes even struggle with are "friend" or "foe." Even if I try to be entirely neutral, I will soon find that I have categorized everyone at the meeting, figured out the political leanings of those around the table, and tried to ferret out the agendas of the church trustees.
Be careful of that, Jesus seems to say.
Are you sure? I realistically reply.
Yes. Whoever is not against you is for you.
I recognize I had been building walls. I realize again how easy it is to be defensive. My stance must be forgiving, guided by trust instead of fear, and hope rather than misgiving. As I think of these things, a single word comes to mind. That word is us. We are not alone. The blessings of creation are given for all. To decide who is us and who is not us denies the very benevolence of a loving God.
Okay, I say to myself. Let me try again.
This time, to my great surprise, there are many helping hands.
Thanks be to God.
Lord, we are people of the word. Help us weigh it, discern it, and live it in company with all who also weigh, discern, and seek to live your word. Amen.
Copyright ©2008 Larry Pray.