Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
Our world is full of negative examples. To a great extent, we seem to thrive on those negative examples. Certainly the radical social and political movements that war with one another use them. The family is redefined because many families fail to live up to a theoretical, somewhat abstract concept of what a family could be. Big business is criticized because some large corporations have engaged in bad business practices with disregard for their employees, their communities, or the environment. Small business is criticized because the small business owners don’t have the resources to care for their employees, their communities, or the environment to the same extent that larger businesses might.
In Ezekiel 36:22, God says that He is going to act not for the sake of Israel, but for his own sake. Israel has brought shame on His name. What have they done? They have claimed to be God’s people but have not acted like who they are. They are the very nation God has chosen to be a blessing to the entire world, to live differently from the rest of the world, to be a haven for those who are in need, a beacon of justice. Yet they have acted no differently from the rest of the world.
By living this way, Israel has brought shame on God’s name. So God, in bringing judgment not only on the surrounding nations, but also on Israel, is acting in defense of His name. He is pointing out that his chosen people have failed.
What does this have to do with our negative examples? I’ll just give one. The Scripture calls God the husband and father of his people. Yet over many years ministering to families I have seen many, many instances of husbands and fathers who are abject failures. Many of them are physically or verbally abusive. For their family members it is difficult to be confronted with a Scriptural picture of God as the husband or father. For the person who has been stuck in an abusive situation, depicting God with the formal title held by their abuser is a dreadful idea.
The Bible does call God the father. The Bible calls God the shepherd, caretaker, in effect, the husband of his people. How do we deal with this?
We remember that the failure of humans to live up to the high calling God has given them says nothing negative about God, but everything negative about them. What’s that ideal father like? Caring, nurturing, providing, making a place of safety, giving opportunity to grow, to ask questions, to fail and to succeed? That may not be much like your father. My father, who did rather well, managed to fail at those tasks, though he also succeeded a good bit of the time.
God never fails. He is the one in whom we can depend. Let God be God!
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