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Depiction of Jonah and the whale on the south ...

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Fleeing from the presence of the Lord 050311

 

The title of today’s blog entry comes from Jonah 1:10. It seems now many people also are fleeing from the presence of the Lord, except the metaphorical big fish that swallows them is darkness in life. Usually we justify fleeing from God, by our complaints against organized religion, the institutional church.

The church sometimes is indeed often something to flee from. The problem is that when people flee the church, they also flee from God, or at least forget to worship, forget to be a disciple or forget to practice the disciplines of spiritual practice that discipleship requests. In the end, even when fleeing from the institutional church, one drifts alone, and drifts away from God. Drifting away is maybe worse than being swallowed by a fish because it does not end, like it did for Jonah, after three days. It can last forever.

Worshipping and studying in a small group or church reconnect one to God without the problems many see with organized religion. Let’s face it, as individuals without the regularity of a community in worship, one drifts away from God. Few of us have the discipline to be spiritual and continue growing, when we are alone.

Peace

(brother) Bill

Psalm 114

1When Israel went out from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,

2Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion.

3The sea looked and fled; Jordan turned back.

4The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs.

5Why is it, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, that you turn back?

6O mountains, that you skip like rams? O hills, like lambs?

7Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob,

8who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.

Jonah 1:1-17

1Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai, saying, 2“Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.” 3But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid his fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.

4But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and such a mighty storm came upon the sea that the ship threatened to break up. 5Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried to his god. They threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten it for them. Jonah, meanwhile, had gone down into the hold of the ship and had lain down, and was fast asleep. 6The captain came and said to him, “What are you doing sound asleep? Get up, call on your god! Perhaps the god will spare us a thought so that we do not perish.” 7The sailors said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, so that we may know on whose account this calamity has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. 8Then they said to him, “Tell us why this calamity has come upon us. What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” 9“I am a Hebrew,” he replied. “I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” 10Then the men were even more afraid, and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them so.

11Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea was growing more and more tempestuous. 12He said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you; for I know it is because of me that this great storm has come upon you.” 13Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring the ship back to land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more stormy against them. 14Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, O Lord, we pray, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life. Do not make us guilty of innocent blood; for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.” 15So they picked Jonah up and threw him into the sea; and the sea ceased from its raging. 16Then the men feared the Lord even more, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows. 17But the Lord provided a large fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

1 Corinthians 15:19-28

19If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. 21For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; 22for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. 23But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. 28When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Comments on: "Fleeing from the presence of the Lord 050311" (3)

  1. “Usually we justify fleeing from God, by our complaints against organized religion, the institutional church.”
    So there was a great talk on that exact issue. The problem is a product of our culture, where we believe that the Church is the same thing as the Gospel. The following is from Ronald Poelman…

    “When we understand the difference between the gospel and the Church and the appropriate function of each in our daily lives, we are much more likely to do the right things for the right reasons.

    “Institutional discipline is replaced by self discipline.

    “Supervision is replaced by righteous initiative and a sense of divine accountability.

    “The Church aids us in our effort to use our free agency creatively, not to invent our own values and principles, but to discover and adopt the eternal truths of the gospel.

    “Gospel living is a process of continuous individual renewal and improvement until the person is prepared and qualified to enter comfortably and with confidence into the presence of God.”

  2. “The church sometimes is indeed often something to flee from. The problem is that when people flee the church, they also flee from God, or at least forget to worship, forget to be a disciple or forget to practice the disciplines of spiritual practice that discipleship requests.”

    That’s what I see. I am at a point where I have so many issues with religion, that I want to move forward and follow the Savior. Go and live a life of service. But the examples that I see of others is that they really don’t get any better. Maybe it’s because they are leaving for the wrong reasons. They have recognized the problems, but are not at a point where their desires to follow Jesus are making their decisions. Then again, there are those few who have moved on and really lived a Christ like life. Those are usually the ones that are in the scriptures that we are inspired by. I guess it’s either go big of go home.

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