Saturday, August 16, 2014

Turn and Be Converted

Therefore I will judge you, house of Israel, each one according to his ways, says the Lord GOD.  Turn and be converted from all your crimes, that they may be no cause of guilt for you.  Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.  Ezekiel 18:30-31

Children were brought to Jesus that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  Matthew 19:13-14

There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.
A time to give birth, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them; a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.  (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

If two themes occur daily in scripture, those are the themes of change and invitation. 

Whether Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, or any of the prophets of the Hebrew Bible, they are all imploring their contemporaries and generations to follow to have a change of heart.  When Jesus comes on the scene, he picks right up on that theme from the first words in his public ministry and expands upon it. 

If the first step is to change, the second step is change to what?  The second steps is to turn to the Word.  Jesus invites us to change our habits and take on his mission.  Ezekiel lays out a full agenda of behaviors which must be corrected and avoided.  They correspond quite accurately with Matthew 25, and the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

Once we decide to change, the invitation to open a relationship with the Lord is open to everyone.  All are welcome from the wealthy to the poor, from the healthy to the sick, from the powerful to the powerless.  In return for our conversion, the Lord promises to renew us.  “And I will give them another heart and a new spirit I will put within them.” (Ezekiel 11:19).

Turn and live is the promise of Ezekiel and that is fulfilled in the sacrifice of Jesus.  Jesus tells us that the time is now.

If the list from Ezekiel is too dated, from what are we asked to turn?  The Internet?  The “cloud?”  The news?  Our career-obsessions?  Our “affluenza?”  How are we to repair our relationships with each other and the Lord if all these and more are in the way?  

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