SCRIPTURE: Hosea 6:1 (TM)
"Come on, let's go back to God. He hurt us, but he'll heal us. He hit us hard, but he'll put us right again.
Stanley C. Brown tells this story: A young boy, on an errand for his mother, had just bought a dozen eggs. Walking out of the store, he tripped and dropped the sack. All the eggs broke, and the sidewalk was a mess. The boy tried not to cry. A few people gathered to see if he was OK and to tell him how sorry they were. In the midst of the works of pity, one man handed the boy a quarter. Then he turned to the group and said, "I care 25 cents worth. How much do the rest of you care?" James 2:16 (What if one of you said, "Go in peace! Stay warm! Have a nice meal!"? What good is it if you don't actually give them what their body needs? CEB) points out that words don't mean much if we have the ability to do more.
It is often heard today that what needs to happen in America is for us to “get back to God”. This statement makes a huge assumption… that at some point in the past we were right with God. What a huge assumption. Parallel our history with scripture and won’t take a genius to discover where our nation failed to be God’s people.
Guess what? Israel made the same false assumption. The Old Testament illustrates over and over and over again how rebellious these people were. It is no secret that God poured out his blessings on the “chosen” people, gave them a promised land, establish roots for these nomadic children of Abraham. It was possible for them to make the assumption that they were “right” with God… after all look at all the blessings! But a more careful reading of the Old Testament will illustrate just how rebellious they were… not once or twice or three times, but a thousand times a thousand.
Many of the voices that call for us to get back to God have a political agenda, an agenda that God will not honor. Truly, getting back to God means that we are going to do it God’s way, follow God’s teachings, abide by God’s purpose and directions, fulfill the place that God has chosen us to fulfill in the world. It isn’t about prayers in school or prayers before city council meetings. It isn’t about having an invocation before sporting events. It isn’t about permitting religious displays at Christmas time or wishing everybody a Merry Christmas. It isn’t about hanging copies of the 10 Commandments in our halls of justice. It is about being faithful to the cause of Christ.
Getting back to God means that we are going to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, care for those in prison and look after the welfare of the widows and orphans of society… in other words it is about taking care of the disenfranchised of society. Getting back to God is about loving God with all of our heart, all of our mind and all of our soul… and loving our neighbors as ourselves.
Getting back to God means more than just an outward appearance of being religious. It goes much deeper than that. It means that we will seek everywhere possible to be a blessing to others – no matter who they might be nor where they might live nor what language they might speak nor what god they might worship. It means turning the other cheek, going the second mile, offering the coat off our backs… it means not repaying evil for evil. It means forgiving 70 times 7.
Do we really desire to get back with God?
Gracious God we say one thing with our mouth, but mean something different in our hearts. We express with a certain patriotic zeal an outward appearance of being faithful, but a different reality abides just below the surface. Help us to mean what we say and to say what we mean.