Sunday, 1 October 2017

Promises, promises

Promise keeping in today's world does not rate that highly.  The old adage that you are as good as your word does not resonate well in business circles with its unending demand for contracts and legally binding clauses to keep everyone doing the things that they promise to do.  Looking at Christ's parable of the two sons (Matt. 21.28-32) seems to indicate that this was the case even way back then.  Indeed if we look at Moses actions at the pool of Meribah (Ex.17.5-7), which is further expanded in Numbers 20.10-13, we see this in action.  What promises do we find hard to complete and what promises do we find easy?  It really depends on our attitude as does everything we do in terms of our Christian walk.  The attitude is brought out in Christ's parable supremely well.  It is not just about doing but also about doing for the right reasons and in obeyance of God.

Our promise keeping is desultory at best non existent at worst.  We require of ourselves written contracts to maintain the promises we keep.  Even when we are considering our bond to a person for life we hesitate and hesitate until we become content in a less formal relationship.  We are unable to make the commitment of a promise to a person we wish to live our lives with.  Either because of legality or because we are too scared to make that commitment.  We promise our children the earth but force them to undertake a style of education that is better suited to 100 years ago than to a world that has changed.  We make a commitment to our faith at baptism and again at confirmation only to find ourselves breaking those very promises each time we turn around.  We are happy to make voluntary commitments if it does not inconvenience our life style or what we believe should be the manner in which we live.  Moses breaks a promise to obey God when he strikes out at the rock for water to come.  We break our promise to God each and every time we fail to stand up for someone who is less fortunate then ourselves.

Are we obedient and good at promise keeping?  Which dog are we?

Like the first son who promises to work the fields and then goes to his pleasures we often neglect that which God demands of us.  We place our own selfish desires before the obedience to a promise we have made in our baptism and confirmation. We often do this in small things, neglect of our community, for our own pride and vanity. Unlike more indigenous cultures who are brought up to place community first we who pride ourselves in following Christ place ourselves first.  It is the humbleness of heart that allows us to give to the other that which we want that sets us apart from everyone else.  Christ shows us the way by stating the position of the second son.  We can renege, if we are honest, but that very honesty allows us to turn around to find the grace and assist. in acknowledging Christ in our hearts we mirror his giving in our lives.

Part of our promise keeping and obedience to God is to be honest in all our undertakings in God's name.  Christ critiqued the institutional church much to their chagrin in many ways.  In doing so Christ enabled others to see the true face of a compassionate God in their lives.  Whilst we strive to do God's will within our structures it is often more important to be honest with our own obedience.  This means that we may be at odds with what is perceived to be unwarranted promise breaking within our own structures.  Yet, in order to fulfil God's commands we need to ensure that our own promises and our own commitments are true.  We need to be involved with and committed in our time, our giving and our obedience to God's will.

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