Devotion - June 24

Psalms 116-120 / Proverbs 24 / Micah 6:8 / John 15:1-8

Sustained discipleship is difficult.

The last two days we have reflected on the hard ground that gave the seed (the message of the kingdom of God) no purchase. Today I’m reflecting on the seed that falls upon rocky soil, springs up quickly (I always imagine enthusiastically!) but then withers in the heat of the day because it has no roots. Jesus puts it succinctly: ‘in the time of testing they fall away’ (Lk. 8:13).
I’m thinking about what it takes to endure in the time of testing – the importance of roots. Whenever there is a welcome ground swell of attention and protest on behalf of justice for black lives in particular, I hear Jesus’ warning in the back of my mind – the pattern of springing to life with joy then withering in the time of testing. It contrasts with the testimony of lives such as Ida B. Wells-Barnett in the 19th century and Bryan Stevenson in our own, both voices against the domestic terrorism of lynching and each compelled by their Christian faith. What is required for deeply rooted, sustainable kingdom witness?

There is, first and foremost, the compelling need to be firmly and deeply rooted in the life of Jesus through the word (John 15:1-8). And there is the reality that lives deeply rooted in the good news of the gospel will persevere in seeking God’s kingdom of love, justice and mercy as it grows and extends in our lives. I encourage you, alongside the daily meditation and prayer on Jesus’ testimony and word, to extend our gospel roots at this time by listening to the testimony of fellow believers concerning race and the kingdom.

Maybe choose a book for summer reading on the gospel and race. InterVarsity Press right now through June 30 offers 50% off several fantastic titles in their ‘resources for faithful justice’ initiative. Our household is reading a couple of these titles right now.

Remember that the film “Just Mercy”, based on Bryan Stevenson’s work and the book of the same name, is streaming free on multiple platforms through the end of this month as well. I wonder if you have seen this conversation between Bryan Stevenson and Tim Keller, posted June 3, entitled “Grace, Justice and Mercy”?

And while there are a number of thoughtful reflections on the evangelical response to George Floyd’s death that I could point you to, I wonder if you have read this editorial from the editor of Christianity Today, Timothy Dalrymple, entitled “Justice too long Delayed.” It has some challenges for the church to consider...

Here is the thing about good soil: it gives roots room to run, deepen and develop. These faithful witnesses reflect on the good seed of God’s word to challenge and strengthen both our roots in the gospel of the kingdom and our capacity to develop a sustainable witness to justice and reconciliation in Jesus’ name.

Learning and listening alongside you,
Pastor Laurie
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