I am running a week behind now, as life has got in the way. Around a couple of weeks of a roller-coaster of looking after a very poorly, elderly dog, we had to have him put down last night. So right now I am feeling a little bit overwhelmed with grief . The next couple of posts will be short and I may take a break, depending on how I feel. (I may do the opposite and throw myself into blogging as a distraction, I just don’t know.)
Psalms/ Canticles: Psalm 91:1-2, 9-end or 1:11
OT Reading: Deuteronomy 26:1-11
NT Reading: Romans 10:8b-13
Gospel: Luke 4:1-13
We jump back in the narrative again now, as we enter the traditional church season of Lent and follow Jesus through his 40 days in the wilderness, fasting and praying and being tempted by the devil.
The short passage in Romans quotes Deuteronomy 30:14 which tells us that “the Word is near – in our hearts and on our lips”, and states that we must both believe and confess.
When I first joined the Anglican church five years ago I was very impressed by the liturgy which even in its modern form is thoroughly Biblical, and which seemed like a solid buttress against strange teaching and error; and yet it began to dawn on me that despite repeating the liturgy every week, it was no guarantee that the words the congregation were speaking were actually believed by the speakers (or even the clergy).
This passage tells us that confession isn’t enough – belief is required as well (and when you look into the meaning of the Greek verb to believe and the Hebrew word behind it, you see that such belief must not merely be mental assent but a living, active, obedient faith, which is consistent with the whole ‘counsel of scripture’ – see for example the passage starting at Matthew 25:35).
In Pentecostal circles, the spoken word of confession and affirmation is on the other hand considered very powerful indeed – in a sense carrying the same innate power of creation “calling that which is not into being” that God used at the creation of the World, a belief that teachers like Joel Osteen may possibly take too literally – but of course in the Gospel passage, the way Jesus battles with the devil is through the Word of God which he quotes in answer to every temptation.
I’ll be honest and say that I’m not even sure that I have made the points I wanted to here, and I haven’t really covered the passages properly, but I’m going to have to leave it there as I don’t think I’m going to be able to make any more sense than this at this time.
If you can’t get hold of it, find a copy of Michael Card’s excellent album the Ancient Faith trilogy (on two CDs), which includes a lovely song called “The Word is so near”. I couldn’t find that particular song, but I’ll leave you with a youtube playlist of songs from the album. (Actually that song is in the playlist, but only an instrumental piano version – if you can seek out the original, it’s worth finding.)