Thoughts for your consideration
Terrorism in France, racial tensions in the United States, the challenges of global warming, dramatically falling oil prices, Ebola, extreme income inequality, religious tensions, people giving up religious faith, secularism, so many injustices, questions abounding! Oh my! What shall we do?
God wants to bring something into our struggling world. The scriptures today remind us that reform and change are possible.
God sends Jonah into an immense “secular” city to proclaim repentance and renewal. Jonah goes with great reluctance and expects no success. However, he is surprised by success. The people of Nineveh change their lives. Reform happens!
After John has been arrested and thrown into prison. John’s followers and others must be discouraged, however, Jesus appears proclaiming: “This is the time of fulfillment. The reign of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Some people are so inspired by this message that they leave everything, and follow Jesus. “The church” begins.
- We live in a time when reform and change are needed.
- In a very wealthy nation, too many people are living in poverty.
- There is vast income and asset inequality.
- We have homeless families and empty homes.
- Unemployment rates are way too high especially among “minorities.”
- Over two million people are in prison or jail.
- In a nation largely built by immigrants, we have millions who live with the fear of deportation.
- In spite of our commitment to equal opportunity, not all of our children have equal access to a quality education.
- Even with reforms, in spite of spending more per person on health care than almost any nation, not everyone has access to quality health care.
- In spite of rhetoric about peace, we are constantly involved in wars and preparations for war.
- In spite of plans to reduce defense spending, we still spend huge amounts on the world’s largest defense budget.
- Even though we have only 6% of the world’s population, we are the world’s largest energy consumer and until very recently the largest emitter of carbon dioxide emissions.
- After almost 150 years after the end of slavery, racial divisions, distrust, stereotypes, and injustices continue.
- Terrorism in the name of religion shows up all over the world.
- Political groups are polarized and compromise seems impossible.
We live in a time where proclaiming reform and change can seem to be futile. We can feel crazy bringing up religious values. We can feel discouraged or overwhelmed by the powers that be – by the desire to settle things by war, by political leaders who are not honest, by a political process than is controlled by those with the most money, by political policies that seem biased against the poor, by the values of the consumer culture, by the economic interests that seem to show no respect for the environment, and by many other ideologies and ways of acting. Change seems impossible. Certain secular values seem to have overwhelming power. Yet the scriptures invite us to believe that reform is possible, that change and growth can take place and that God is calling us to something better.
The scriptures today remind us that reform and change is possible, not only in our personal life and interpersonal relations, but also in our society and its institutions.