By Dr. David Beldman of the Religion and Theology Department
This has been a tough week. The news reports are bombarding us with expressions of hate, violence, discrimination, and loss. In such sad and tumultuous times, what does it mean to confess “one Lord” (Eph. 4:5)?
In a powerful display on Mount Sinai God reveals to Moses his glory, also declaring: “Yahweh, Yahweh, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…” (Ex. 34:6). This phrase becomes a kind of mantra throughout the Old Testament, expressing the character of the One God (Num 14:18; Neh 9:17; Pss 86:15; 103:8; 145:8; Joel 2:13; Nah 1:3).
This week in REL 201 we took a close look at Jonah. For Jonah, this compassionate and grace-full character of God was the reason he didn’t want to go to Nineveh (read Jonah 4:2!). God’s love and care were fine so long as they were directed at Jonah and his people—those characteristics of God were a source of frustration and anger to Jonah when they were directed at Jonah’s enemies. The painful challenge Jonah had to face comes in God’s question at the end of the book, “Should I not show compassion to Nineveh…” and the REL 201 students and I were faced with that same challenging question in our context.
Paul was no stranger to hate, discrimination and violence—when he wrote the letter to the Ephesians he was in prison because of his faith in Jesus. The confession “Jesus is Lord” in Paul’s context was treasonous and could (and did) cost Christians their lives. But Jesus’ lordship made all the difference, motivating a completely countercultural way of being in the world.
It’s hard to know how to respond to current events, but I pray that “One Lord” might not just be our confession, but more importantly the motivation of cross-shaped living in our times.
1) What does it mean for you that “Jesus is Lord?”
2) How does this give us hope and courage in our lives?