Friday, October 13, 2006

A word aptly spoken... but that word??

Today's reading from Proverbs includes this gem:
A word aptly spoken
is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold
is a wise man's rebuke to a listening ear.
Proverbs 25.11-12
I may have mentioned before the idea, which I've heard in more than one sermon I think, that God created the universe by a spoken command. Words have power when spoken by God, and they have power when spoken by us, who were made in his image. So an aptly spoken word is like precious jewelry.

But a rebuke from a wise man is also precious, if the ear is willing to listen. Tell you what, I'd rather do the first than the second. Rebukes are no fun to give and not much fun to get, either. Yesterday's reading included the downside of the prophet's life...

So this morning's reading also included this rather uncomfortable verse from 2 Thessalonians. I don't like this passage, although Paul apparently intended it to be an encouragement to the church in Thessalonica. The deal is that these Thessalonian christians were being persecuted, and Paul was telling them not to worry, that those who stubbornly persisted in tormenting them were going to get theirs on the day of retribution, when Jesus reappears with his avenging angels,
dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power...
2 Thessalonians 1.8-9
I guess this passage doesn't bring me a lot of comfort today because I've not suffered persecution for my faith.

But back in the days when I went knocking on students' doors to talk to them about Jesus, there was an evening when a student made some flippant remarks about Jesus and God and the Bible. The guy who was with me mentioned that part about retribution and eternal destruction, and I started feeling pretty uncomfortable. The student wasn't particularly impressed, as I recall.

The thing is that hell is real, and much as we don't like to talk about it today, people that you and I know are in real danger.

So what is the word that we're called upon to speak aptly today?

And is there a rebuke or a warning that we're called upon to issue today?

Lord, please help me to know what the mission is that you have for me today. Amen.

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