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Lenten Devotional – Thursday February 21

Thursday, February 21

By Jim Moos

Genesis 13:1-7, 14-18 

God promised Abram (later renamed “Abraham”) countless descendants and a gift of land as an inheritance.  Today Jews, Christians and Moslems all consider ourselves to be descendants of Abram.  Far from living in harmony with each other as loving siblings, Abram’s children are engaged in a painful struggle over inheritance rights—the land given to Abram and his offspring includes the state of Israel, and the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza.  God’s gracious provision has been transformed into an ideological and military struggle over boundaries.  The net result is incalculable suffering and ongoing bloodshed which threatens the stability of the region and the entire world.  

We often distort God’s grace.

 Instead of inheriting life we become agents of greed, injustice and exclusion.  Consider the popularity of the so-called “prosperity gospel.”  Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly.  The prosperity gospel twists that promise into the expectation of divinely given wealth in which money is a sign of God’s favor.  The corollary to this reasoning is that poverty is a sign of God’s judgment, a position that is far from the gospel.  The life destroying poverty that afflicts untold millions is not the result of divine judgment, but of human injustice.  

When we revise God’s promises in order to serve our own purposes we not only fail to realize God’s loving intention for our own lives, we also bring suffering upon others.  Those of us who claim to be the children of Abraham must not understand our inheritance in exclusive terms: “this belongs to me and you can’t have it.”  We must understand our inheritance of grace as something we are called to share with all of our brothers and sisters, and with all of creation.  

Gracious God, we give thanks for divine promises made long ago to care for your children.  Help us to understand that it is not only us or those who agree with us who are your children—all of creation is held in your loving hands.  Forgive us for our indifference to the needs of others, and help us to be agents of your peace and justice
in the Middle East and throughout creation.

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