Our choices have consequences. Choose well. SanTan Sun News

Our choices have consequences. Choose well.

July 5th, 2018 | by SanTan Sun News
Our choices have consequences. Choose well.
Spirituality
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By Susan Wilmot, Guest Writer

 

William Inge, one-time dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, is credited with stating, “There are no rewards or punishments – only consequences.” It speaks to both the truth of God and of a world in which we all live with the consequences of our sinful and rebellious ways.  

The prologue to the Book of Psalms, Psalm 1, prompts us to make a choice between two very different ways of being in the world. At two opposite ends of the spectrum, we have the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked.

If only life’s choices were always as straightforward! In reality, we’re much more of a mixed bag of righteous thoughts, words and deeds, as well as our selfish and self-serving ways.

However, the choice remains, and the psalmist describes what’s at stake. To accept the gift of faith allows us to become increasingly dependent on God and more inclined toward selfless service, peace and justice. To reject the gift of faith is to assert personal independence and self-reliance.

Whatever choice we make, we live with the consequences, which also includes elected leadership and the directions they take on our behalf.

It’s often deeply frustrating when we realize some leaders misuse or abuse the power and trust placed in them by the people. As followers of Jesus, the political sphere is part of our mission and ministries, especially when it comes to establishing equity and justice for all, especially the poor and most vulnerable among us.  

Still, we might wonder if there’s hope for changing hearts, minds and other driving forces motivating some leaders to dehumanize, demonize and mistreat certain groups of people, and squander our shared resources for personal gain.

The simple answer is, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26, Mark 10:27). With God we can make a difference.

According to the psalmist, the greatest blessing or happiness – the Hebrew can be translated both ways – begins by delighting in God’s teachings. This call to study, pray and meditate on God’s word is found throughout the Scriptures, and for obvious reasons.  

Relationship is essential to knowledge and wisdom, and we can’t know or do what’s pleasing to God if we don’t know the nature and character of God, or understand what God desires of us. Meditating on God’s word opens the way to relationship with God and an understanding of God’s ways. It’s a lifelong and dynamic process, not dutiful rote learning or something that’s static.

As we read in Hebrews 4:12, “The word of God is living and active.” The word of God is also a stream of living water. As the old saying goes, you can’t step into the same stream twice. Since we live in time, the sum of our experiences and knowledge expands and changes.  

In faith, we’re subject to ongoing transformation into Christ-likeness. The water is flowing, not stagnant, and so the word holds something new for us every time we immerse ourselves in it.

The image of God’s people as well-watered trees bearing good fruit is found all over the Word. For example, in Proverbs 3:8 there’s this beautiful description of Lady Wisdom (a.k.a. the Holy Spirit) that resonates with Psalm 1, “She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called happy.”  

As followers of Jesus, our roots are in the living water who is our creator, sustainer and redeemer. We die with Christ in the waters of baptism and are raised to new and unending life in Him, bringing color and vigor to the world as we share the hope and promise of eternal life in the good news of Jesus Christ.  

In Christ, we’re empowered to practice resurrection life now. The consequence of faith and faithful choices is bearing good fruit for God’s kingdom. In other words, as Jesus taught, we love God and live in right relationship with our neighbors, serving their needs according to God’s loving-kindness, compassion and justice.  

What of the blessing anticipated for those who yield their wills to God’s will? Our rootedness in the Word and the living water flowing in and through us helps us to live into the fullness of our humanity and into authentic life and freedom in Christ.  

The blessing is manifest in the fruit of the Spirit producing in us love, joy, peace, patience, goodness and kindness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23a).  The prophet Micah (6:8) sums it all up like this: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”  

Our choices have consequences. Choose well.

 

-The Rev. Susan E. Wilmot, vicar at St. James the Apostle Episcopal Church & Preschool, 975 E. Warner Road, Tempe, can be reached at rector@stjamestempe.org, 480-345-2686 or stjamestempe.org.

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