Sunday, December 31, 2006

Dialogue with God

When I spent that summer in Berkeley, back in 1980 or so, one of the leaders told us about reading Malachi. He'd read something like
"Return to me, and I will return to you," says the Lord Almighty.
from Malachi 3.7
and then he'd pray, "How shall I return to you?" Then he'd look down at his Bible again and find this:
"But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’"
from Malachi 3.7
There's more than one place in Malachi that's like this. Actually Malachi's book opens with a dialogue like that.

I think this is really cool. Often when I read the Bible I just read it like I'd read, oh, a nonfiction article. But the Bible isn't supposed to just make us smarter; it's given to us to change our lives -- as many others have said. So it's better to interact with it, to talk back to it, to ask and object and complain, and to hear the Lord's voice in it.

Back to the passage then. What immediately follows the above is this:
"Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.

"But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’

"In tithes and offerings.... Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it."
Malachi 3.8,10
What might we say to this? One place I begin is: "Lord, does this still apply to me today?"

How about, "But I have too many bills already!" Let me extend that. The text promises to those who give the tenth that blessings will flow. "Really, Lord? Is that promise for me?" The text urges its readers to test him. Which might be a place to start. To give to him a tenth of... time, talent, treasure? The "treasure" (money) part is the easiest to measure, but what about the others? That would be a growth point for me.

How about for you?

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