Another Generation with no Knowledge of God or God’s Work
Judges 2: 1-10
What a pressing need! The next generation had no knowledge of God, the great I AM who worked wonders, any of the amazing things that God did. Does faith have a shelf life? A best before date?
Children it seems, are skeptics. God is said to have done this and that, but if one hasn’t seen it with their own eyes, it may not have happened. Missouri, show me state of mind, everywhere.
Does this point to an aspect of faith that we don’t often explore. Faith is about believing. If one is not believing does faith diminish? If there is nothing to talk over with God, does God seem to cease to exist for that one who doesn’t talk to God. I was reading a book by an abbot of a monastery and I was struck with a distinction that I had not thought of quite in that way. The writer said the difference between a monk and everyone else is that the goal of the monk is always to be in prayer. Everything a monk does is bathed in a sense of continual prayer. The monk’s life according to this writer is framed by personal prayer and spiritual reading. I am not a monk but I would have thought that is the goal of everyone who follows Christ. But I also realized that that absence of prayer is evident in my life. I do not do everything in the context of prayer.
So if I step away from God I am in fact making a commitment to someone else cutting a contract with another force. By so doing I am disregarding the covenant that I made with God. This is the first time in many years that the confirmation class that became members has one or two who can still be seen at church. What they wrote in their statement of faith is still being believed.
In the time of judges not only did the people forget God, make agreements with other forces, they would continue to have people with other beliefs around them as traps. That seems pretty trite and biased in 2022 but maybe we need to reflect on it for awhile. If we are with folk whose core beliefs are different from ours, do they rub off on us? For years I have heard a rotten apple spoils the basket. But recently I heard another way of looking at it. A trained horse can break an untrained horse into the yoke of pulling a cart, wagon or buggy. The trained, may I say believing, horse can influence the untrained for good.
The reaction by the crowd when the messenger of the Lord foretold this trap laid for them was that they broke out into weeping and raised their voices in lament. But not all tears are equal or are they? These weepers came back to God and to the next generation of elders who had seen but then it fell apart. Believing stirs seeing God’s work in your life. As one sees God at work that is seen by others but if no one is believing that God is at work then no one will see or hear of God’s work and no one in the next generation will realize what they are missing.
Maybe the other key is that they all went home to take care of the property that they had just received. Property takes attention. Windows need to be cleaned, lawns need to be mowed, cattle need to be grazed and the list goes on. God, being good and gracious can go on hold, right? Wrong. Our faith journey happens every day. We either believe more or we don’t. We either see God doing something in us and in our children or we don’t. We either believe that what we have has come to us from God or we think that it came about from our own hard work. Our children learn how to plow a field, write a report, create a plan because we sit with them, or we send them to school and ask them about it when they get home. Not many children make a go of anything on their own steam. They seek to please us with what they have found, learned, discovered, practiced.
Our Buddhist and other meditative religious people describe their faith as their practice. Only living what we believe creates a space for those around us to see God’s work. When we see someone staring at something we often stop and look at what they are distracted or drawn to. Faith has a magnetism when it is lived in each detail. If people don’t see our God at work in us they might not see God at work.
In the name of the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer amen.
God of All, make us see your grace and compassion…
Jesus, Savior of the world, pour your freedom over all…
Spirit of God, with the fire of your love let the veils dissolve off our eyes so we can see…