Sunday, September 16, 2012

On Scripture: Jeremiah 11: 18-20

Jeremiah 11:18-20

It was the LORD who made it known to me, and I knew;
    then you showed me their evil deeds.
But I was like a gentle lamb
    led to the slaughter.
And I did not know it was against me
    that they devised schemes, saying,
"Let us destroy the tree with its fruit,
    let us cut him off from the land of the living,
    so that his name will no longer be remembered!"
But you, O LORD of hosts, who judge righteously,
    who try the heart and the mind,
let me see your retribution upon them,
    for to you I have committed my cause.  

How does this text baffle me? How does it accuse me?

In other words: how does this text hurt? 

I do not know where I place myself. If I'm the one who prays, then I skate along the surface of life mostly oblivious to the moral and mortal danger in which I constantly am. I do not know and cannot understand the depth of the protection of the love of God. "It was the Lord who made it known to me, and I knew." I do not know the evil lurking in the hearts of men. I do not know the unguarded thoughts of those I pass walking along the streets. Arrogantly and self-righteously, I assume that they, like me, are too civil or too fearful to physically harm another. But that I have not done such a thing does not mean that I cannot. Cut off from the land of the living, from friend and kin in kind, would I plot evil in my heart? Do I think against an other?
I am not the fruitful tree. I do not dwell in the land of the living. I will not be remembered. And I most certainly do not judge righteously. I seek my retribution; I forget the Lord. Am I vindictive? I cannot will the prosperity of others if I myself might once have gotten it. Do I kill others? I happily reside in a nation responsible for the death of thousands upon thousands of men, am complicit in the poverty of children, and do little or nothing to love even my own closest neighbor. I've dreamed, half sleeping, of murder. I've called many men fools. I've called innocents naive, and wise those corrupted by the world. Can I really call myself a lamb?

There is only one Lamb, of course. And I pray most fervently that he would save us all from the time of trial because I know that I myself would not endure it. I do not know where to place myself because I fear for myself. How does this text accuse me? It names me where I will not name myself. It wants to place me where I do not wish to go. How does one begin to answer even the language of the righteous judgement of the Lord? How does one stand beneath the knowledge the Lord would give to him?

the Curious Monk

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