17C19. Genesis 18:20-32. In the account of God’s dealing with Sodom and Gomorrah, God is pictured almost as a royal but human manager or overseer. He is seen as one who needs to go down “to see whether or not their actions fully correspond to the cry against them,” as if God cannot see or know from heaven what is going on in the world. That same characterization of the Lord continues as Abraham bargains humbly but skillfully with his attempt to save the cities. At the bazaar of the middle-east the opening asking price is not the final asking price but the beginning price at which to start the negotiations. In our prayer life, is God someone we bargain or negotiate with or who already knows what his final answer will be no matter how much we want to bargain? Personally I think that the Lord knows what he wants, no matter how much we try to make a deal BUT does not mind a negotiation process to get us to come to his terms. In this episode I think that God wants us to realize he will do his most to save us, as he later did on the cross.
Luke 11:1-13. Jesus himself was often going off to pray or communicate with his heavenly Father. Seeing his example and that John had taught his followers to pray, one of his disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. First Jesus teaches them the ‘Our Father’; then the parable of the man who, having an unexpected guest, requested three loaves of bread from a friend to feed his guest. At first the friend refused to get up from bed to give him the bread but then acquiesced because of his persistence. Jesus’ point was that, if persistence will work with people who can be wicked, how much more it will work with our God, who only knows how to give what is good. In fact, as Jesus said to Martha in last week’s Luke 10:42a, “There is need of only one thing,” that is, the Holy Spirit. Our prayer should be persistent or patient with God, not because his patience will wear thin but because our patience is waiting on him for the good he will certainly give us in his good time. To be people of faith means to live in God’s goodness. “Give us each day our daily bread” is to live each day in the hand of God’s daily goodness. To treat God as the one who is truly and fully the God of our lives we must be daily totally dependent upon him. Let us find that whatever goodness comes our way is from the hand of God. Secular people will interpret the goodness that appears in our lives as only happenstance without any divine source. When we pray: “Forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,” we are obligating ourselves to be good to others as God is good to us. On the phrase “do not subject us to the final test” I was only able to find that at the end times some Jews believed there would be a final great test. I can only wonder that Jesus was saying that, if we put our lives into his hands, he would take us through the final test by his death on the cross to our resurrection with him.
Colossians 2:12-14. Baptism by immersion and then our emergence from the water is symbolic of our joining ourselves to Christ’s death and resurrection. We were dead because of our sins and limiting ourselves to just a life in the flesh. He brought us to spiritual life along with him by forgiving our sins and obliterating the bonds of the Jewish Law, “nailing it to the cross.” Real life is Christ living in us, sharing his life with us.