Friday, December 08, 2006

A promise I don't really want

About a quarter-century ago, I attended a Christian "summer training program" for young people. For nine weeks, a bunch of us lived in a frat house in Berkeley. Some found jobs in the area; others already had jobs (mine was in Cupertino). Early mornings, nights and weekends were spent in fellowship, Bible study, skits and the like. I remember one study, on humility, where we looked up some promises that God has for the proud. One was from 1 Peter 5, saying that God opposes the proud. That's not something I want - to have God promise to oppose me.

Another was from Hosea chapter 13, which is in today's Old Testament reading:
When I fed them, they were satisfied.
When they were satisfied, they became proud.
Then they forgot me.
So I will come upon them like a lion;
Like a leopard I will lurk by the path.
Like a bear robbed of her cubs
I will attack and rip them open.
Like a lion I will devour them;
A wild animal will tear them apart.
Hosea 13.6-8
Now that's an unwelcome promise; I really don't want to make the same mistake that these folks did. That's why, when some of us were talking the other day about prosperity theology, I said I was a little scared of being rich. The above passage came to mind, as well as the place in Proverbs 30 that talks about having too much, and disowning God and saying, “Who is the Lord?”

It would be sad to end up like Howard Hughes — isolated, alone, and miserable — even if he was one of the richest men on the planet.

But I guess you don't have to be rich to be proud (and opposed by God), so that's what I need to be most concerned about.

Because not all of God's promises are nice ones.

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