Saturday, I watched a video of a church burning. The attack on the church in Florida was designed for terror. A church was doused in gasoline and set on fire while Christians gathered to worship.
By Sunday, I knew of three churches burned in the U.S. and an attack on a church in South Africa where at least five people died. There wasn’t a lot of information on the news or the net. It made me pause. Do I go to church this morning? Will we be attacked? Are there any threats? How many churches were attacked this weekend? Will we ever know? My worried mind raced.
Over the last week, there were reports of at least three church fires in the states of Florida, Alabama, and California; and a protest threatening New York churchgoers. And a disturbing story that churchgoers are prohibited, by the State of California, from singing or chanting at services. The reports were from local and Christian news agencies. Most of these events were not well covered in the U.S. national news.
Upset, I turned to My Lord. Currently, I am studying the Book of Proverbs. When I prayed, I remembered my study and Psalm 92:
A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath day.
1It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
2 To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning,
And Your faithfulness every night,
3 On an instrument of ten strings,
On the lute,
And on the harp,
With harmonious sound.
4 For You, Lord, have made me glad through Your work;
I will triumph in the works of Your hands.
5 O Lord, how great are Your works!
Your thoughts are very deep.
6 A senseless man does not know,
Nor does a fool understand this.
7 When the wicked spring up like grass,
And when all the workers of iniquity flourish,
It is that they may be destroyed forever.
8 But You, Lord, are on high forevermore.
9 For behold, Your enemies, O Lord,
For behold, Your enemies shall perish;
All the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.
10 But my horn You have exalted like a wild ox;
I have been anointed with fresh oil.
11 My eye also has seen my desire on my enemies;
My ears hear my desire on the wicked
Who rise up against me.
12 The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree,
He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 Those who are planted in the house of the Lord
Shall flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They shall still bear fruit in old age;
They shall be fresh and flourishing,
15 To declare that the Lord is upright;
He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
Like the Proverbs, Psalm 92 lays out the differences between God and sinful choices. Meditating on the scriptures I remembered God always gives us choices. In Proverbs, I find God laying out the ramifications of our choices. He doesn’t fool around. It’s right there. I had a choice to make. I chose to set aside the fearful part of me and I went to church.
The Sunday Gospel at Church was the parable of the seed falling on the path, rocks, weeds, and good soil. Our Priest asked us to consider how we care for the spiritual seeds God gives us. What do we choose? Do we dig out the weeds and nurture the soil? Or do we just throw them on the ground and see what happens.
When I am comfortable my choices are not clear, it is muddled. But, When the going gets tough my choices become crystal clear. There is no middle ground, no neutral zone. When there are attacks against God, it is a spiritual war. Here is the question I need to consider: When God is attacked, am I in with Him, or am I out?
The readings and homily had me asking myself; When do I get off the couch and make my choice. The Psalms, Proverbs, and Gospels are filled with passages on the choices we make. The paths we walk. Do we choose wisdom or folly, good or evil, the wide path or the narrow one, right or wrong, and how about choosing God Almighty over the world?
In Mark 8:35-36 Jesus teaches, “35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”
Could He say it any clearer? It is right there, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”
In life, it is natural to choose sides. When I was a child, to play a game I had to choose sides. Whose side did I want to be on? If I am watching a sporting event, it is more fun if I choose sides. I’m engaged in the game. We choose who we love, where we live, and what we support. To engage in life we choose sides.
What about our spiritual lives, what side do we choose? I think you know my choice. What do you choose? Jesus Christ or the whole world? It’s your choice, not His.
Be blessed. I pray the Holy Spirit guides us and comforts us in the choices we make in the days ahead.