Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Prodigal People

Hosea 11: 1-11 is a familiar story: it is the story of a prodigal nation. It is the story of a parent-God who has loved his child and given him everything he has ever needed. This was a child rescued from Egypt and given love and affection, only to have that child throw it all back in his parent-God’s face and go off to live life another kind of life.

At the time Hosea was a preacher, Israel was trying to make a treaty with Egypt in the hope that it would protect them from Assyria. This is the story of the people of God who refuse to trust God, and instead wanted to trust Egypt.

It is also the story of the rich people in Israel wanting to hang onto their wealth – so instead of sharing it with the poor people in Israel, they make a deal with the rich people in Egypt. They make an alliance that betrays every moral value they have : so that they can protect their wealth.

In the New Testament Jesus is confronted by a similar problem:
Two brothers are arguing about their inheritance, and Jesus spots the problem at the centre of the argument:
Luk 12:15 "Watch out and guard yourselves from every kind of greed; because your true life is not made up of the things you own, no matter how rich you may be."
This is the stuff that destroys lives : that moment when we think that our stuff is more important than following God. And so in the words of Hosea, we hear of this Parenting God who watches as the people of Israel pursue wealth: and become more and more distant.
Hos 11:5 "They refuse to return to me, and so they must return to Egypt, and Assyria will rule them.

At this point I become aware of ways in which these passages speaks to us today: There are many of us who understand this because we have been parents – and have had to wait for our children....or had our parents waiting for us!
But this is also the story of God who has waited for us to respond:
This is the story of a God who has given us life
and nurtured us
and given us strength for each day
and given us gifts and abilities and talents
and we live our lives consumed by all our needs
and all our problems
and all the things we want to do
and all the things we still need to get

and at no point ever acknowledging our Creator’s generosity by being willing to share the wealth God has given us.

Perhaps this is the moments to pause – and be reminded that God is waiting for us to respond to His love by generously sharing our blessings.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks for this Pete. When I read it the thought struck me to send it to my son and daughter in law in Bahrain - so I copied it and did just that.