Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tomorrow is a New Day

Through the Bible in 90 Days: Day 67

Read: Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah 1:1-10:12

Verse that stood out:
“This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of another” Zechariah 7:8.

Sixty-seven days. That’s how long we’ve been reading through the Old Testament. Tomorrow, we’ll begin the New. For those of you who are behind, or who never started on this journey, tomorrow may be a great day to begin anew with the stories of Jesus. “Read the Bible through in 90 Days” is about to become “Read the New Testament through in 21 Days.” I realize the math doesn’t add up. The reading plan is actually only eighty-eight days. I guess that didn’t sound as catchy to the editors of the program. Whatever the number, would you consider picking up your copy of the Scripture for the next three weeks and reading the New Testament? It could change your life.

Before we get there, let’s not rush through the final pages of the Old Testament. For all the strangeness in some of the Old Testament books, I’ve noticed that there is plenty of consistency between the messages of the two testaments. What does God want from us? He wants us to worship him alone and he wants us to love others as he loves us. Jesus says the law can be boiled down to these two commands: Love God, Love Others. The first should lead to the second. Just listen to the words of Zechariah given to a people who have proclaimed their love of God, “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of another” (7:8). If you love God, love others. Sounds like it could have come from one of the gospels or from the book of James, doesn’t it?

Such words challenge me to ponder not simply my participation in worship each Sunday, but also my participation in the world each week. It’s not enough to just worship God on Sunday and attempt to avoid evil the rest of the week. I do need to worship God on Sunday, but that worship must be followed up with doing good throughout the rest of the week. I must administer justice and show compassion just as much as I must avoid thinking evil thoughts and oppressing others. Too often I settle for less. I settle for neutrality. I don’t do evil. But then again, I don’t do much good either. But if God is alive in me, my life should be a proactive force for his ways in this world. Jesus will say as much in a few pages, “You are the light of the world. . . . so let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

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