Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Reflection on Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16

If you are standing outside when the foundations of the earth shake, you will notice something curious and unsettling; the term solid ground is an illusion. You will notice that the solid ground in fact moves like an ocean as waves of soil is tossed a foot into the air and then settles back down only to be tossed up once again. Houses rise and fall like boats on the rough seas and people pray that their houses will hold through the storm. When the foundations of the earth shake, the only thing that stays secure is the foundation itself; rocky crags and granite mountains proclaim their solid majesty while the soil dances around them.

But, when God shakes the foundations, even the mountains quake and crumble. Did not the mountains quake whenever God spoke to Moses and the prophets? When God’s word of truth is spoken, it rumbles existence, and we clearly see that the term “unmovable mountain” is also an illusion. They too can dance in waves like the soil. The foundation of all existence is not a geological bedrock after-all, but the Word of God, whom we know as Christ Jesus. The Word was in the beginning when order was brought out of chaos and the world formed. The Word is with us now, still creating order out of chaos and shaking the false order that humans create. The Word will still be in the end when the world is shaken for the last time, and everything crumbles apart except everything and everyone that Christ Jesus has set solidly into the foundation itself. Jesus Christ is the unshakable foundation who “is the same yesterday and today and forever.” If you have been claimed by Christ, then you can be found in an unshakable foundation.

Christ may be holding you fast, your feet may be buried forever in the unshakable foundation of God’s unconditional love, cemented there through your baptism, but that does not mean we always remember this fact. As you may have noticed during both the toddler and the early teenaged years, it is a truth of life that people have a tendency to stumble because they do not remember where their feet are. But, you do not have to be a toddler or a teenager to stumble in our relationship with God. In our consumer driven reality where we are told through enticing commercials that happiness can be bought and courage is kept to a minimum because of the discomfort it may bring to us or to our families, it is easy to forget where our feet are. It is common to forget that our feet are grounded in Christ. Much easier is pretending that our feet are grounded in the comforts of the world or the false constructions of the mind. One of the more unsettling truths for us about God is that God has no problem shaking these false foundations. If you have ever struggled in your faith, it is quite likely that you have experienced what I like to call a "God quake."

Most people experience a God quake when they enter their first college religion course, and are told outright that the god they believe in, the god they have held onto since childhood, is not real. In the least, people are told their god only partially resembles the true God. The first year of seminary, for those who enrole, is a year of complete decimation and despair as God uses the professors to completely tear down the gods we have constructed for our false foundations of security. Some leave the school and go back home trying to put the pieces of their false god back together. Most stay and wait until their life becomes less dizzy. Only then can they look down and see the truth.

Most times when you start to feel uncomfortable in worship because of a word spoken or an action done or unanswered prayers linger, you will discover that you are on the verge of a God quake. The quake will honestly be horrible. It will shake your formerly confident soul. It will make you question your life. It will make you question who God is. It will tear down all of your security and will rip off all of your protective clothes and you will be naked before God. And, only when God has shaken all of our securities away will we be able to look down and see, as if for the first time, that our feet are stuck in the foundation of Christ’s unconditional love. And, we realize, as if for the first time, that only in Christ and his unconditional love can we trust.

When the foundations have been shaken, we see through new eyes; Christ’s eyes. We see strangers who need the kindness of others. We see prisoners who have been forgotten by everyone, because they have been deemed worthless. People who are abused and tortured are no longer seen as statistics or too far overseas to be concerned about. Anything that would destroy the relationship we have with our spouse no longer looks as pressing or appealing. We see that money and the things it buys is truly a weak foundation; it can be put to better use than building false, useless foundations for ourselves. When we see through new eyes, Christ’s eyes, we see people just like us, who are in sin, and have not yet figured out how to look down at their feet. They do not yet realize that they don’t have to sin in order to make it in this life. If they would just look down they would see that they have been claimed by Christ. Christ has cemented them into the unshakable foundations. They simply didn’t see it before! Wouldn’t it be great if someone would point out that truth? Wouldn’t it be great if they heard these words of truth from Christ: “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Because of these words we can all say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?”
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Jesus Christ is our unshakable foundation. Look down! Look down and see the truth. You are fixed into an unshakable foundation. You have been claimed by God and are eternally loved. Now go in peace, put on the eyes of Christ, and share that love. Thanks be to God.

All Scripture quotes are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyrighted, 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and is used by permission. All rights reserved.