I’m really blessed to have the ability to study the Bible at the graduate level. Over the last 6 or so years, as I’ve been studying religion, Christianity, and Scripture, my eyes have been opened to so many different things. I’ve begun to think about my spiritual journey in completely new ways that likely would have never happened if not for my education. However, while I have been very blessed to be able to study these things, they have also presented plenty of challenges. At times, I’ve caught myself becoming so enamored with philosophy that I fall into the trap of emphasizing right belief over faithfulness. Sure, I can ponder the different views of divine foreknowledge, describe different atonement theories, and enter into debates surrounding transubstantiation, but that’s completely meaningless if I’m not pursuing a life that is emulating the life of Christ.
This struggle I’ve described is very similar to the one John the Baptist is addressing in Luke 3:7-18. His message is simple: don’t overcomplicate things. When it comes down to it, your beliefs can be absolutely perfect, but that doesn’t mean a thing if it’s not leading you to a life of love. John tells his audience that their primary motivation should be to simply care for the people around them. Treat others fairly. When you see something unjust happening, intervene in a Christlike manner. Basically, all you have to do is pursue justice. But, justice doesn’t mean getting even with someone who did something wrong. Justice isn’t about revenge. Unfortunately, it seems that we get justice and revenge confused far too often. The kind of justice that John is talking about pursues a level playing field for all people. This is a justice that doesn’t just get back at the bad guy, but watches out for the impoverished and the widow. Justice like this is rooted in love above anything else. If our beliefs don’t lead us to live in a manner that encourages love and justice, then it doesn’t matter if we have a perfect theology. Anticipating the return of Christ means getting involved in the world around us and helping to bring heaven to earth.
-Consider injustices that you may have seen in the news lately. What would Jesus’ response to these situations be?
(Bt Cody Poinsett)