Today, we look at a Day 3 text from this year’s summer curriculum, “Transformed Community: God’s Agent of C.H.A.N.G.E.”
Prayer: Adonai, you are the Ancient One who teaches beyond our years. You know the easy difference between truth and deceit. May our way with you ever be found in genuine and truthful following. In your Name, May it be so.
Reading: Matthew 22:34-40 (Click to read text)
Stop and GROW: After reading the text, discuss/ponder the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Book of Faith questions, which are part of Camp Mount Luther's GROW Time with campers.
QUESTION 1: What scares, confuses, challenges, or doesn’t make sense to me in this text?
QUESTION 2: What delights me in this text or is my favorite part of the story?
QUESTION 3: What stories or memories does this text stir in me?
QUESTION 4: What is God up to in this text?
Reflection: One day I was driving up New Berlin Mountain Road. There were “Road Construction Ahead” warnings or something like it on posted on bright signs dropped on the roadside. It was raining. A police officer became visible nearing the top. He signaled for me to stop and I rolled down my window. I started going through the mental checklist of lightbulbs, inspections, and registrations. Before I could wonder if I was speeding he asked me, “Do you you know what Romans 3 says.” Clearly, he saw my clerical collar. I looked at him quizzically as to how that part of Paul’s argument might apply to driving. I asked him which part and that I wasn’t sure what he meant. “Well, I might have the number wrong, look it up, but it says, ‘Be subject to the governing authorities.’” He smiled, paused and said, “Lights on when your wipers are on. It’s the law.” He motioned me on.
I felt convicted. I remembered that my family had told me about the relatively new law at the time. I argued with them that I hadn’t heard about it. I doubted their authority. After I returned from the hospital visit I was headed to, I looked up the passage. There it was, Romans 13.
We are always looking for loopholes and reasons to not do what is right or what we don’t want to do. The Pharisees may sound arrogant and irritating, hypocritical and conniving, but in this instance, I am glad that they asked Jesus this critical and tricky question. That officer had been studying his Bible and encouraged me to do the same, all while practicing mercy and not issuing me a ticket. My family also practiced these two great rules by loving me even in my brokenness. They might have teased me briefly and highlighted the I-told-you-so, but they were content that I would now drive more carefully. Loving God and neighbors occurs each day in all the million little things that we do keeping those two great rules in mind. Rather than ask or argue about, “Who do you think that rule is for?” We instead keep the great rules in mind and follow them. We then follow all the little rules that make the great two possible.
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