Thank God for warmer morning weather! Finally, I can sit on my deck, drink my coffee, and look into the sky to talk with my Creator for a few minutes before the day officially begins. This morning, through my “Jesus Calling” devotional by Sarah Young, I was lead over to the book of Zephaniah. Seriously, I had to look it up in the table of contents. I mean, who? But he was a prophet and this book of the Bible is only 3 chapters long. I was intrigued enough to turn and read Eugene H. Peterson’s introduction. What I read struck me. I would like to share it with you.
We humans keep looking for religion that will give us access to God without having to bother with people. We want to go to God for comfort and inspiration when we’re fed up with the men and women and children around us. We want God to give us an edge in the dog-eat-dog competition of daily life.
This determination to get ourselves a religion that gives us an inside track with God, but leaves us free to deal with people however we like, is age-old. It is the sort of religion that has been promoted and marketed with both zeal and skill throughout human history. Business is always booming.
It is also the sort of religion that the biblical prophets are determined to root out. They are dead set against it.
Because the root of the solid spiritual life is embedded in a relationship between people and God, it is easy to develop the misunderstanding that my spiritual life is something personal between God and me — a private thing to be nurtured by prayers and singing, spiritual readings that comfort and inspire, and worship with like-minded friends. If we think this way for very long, we will assume that the way we treat people we don’t like or who don’t like us has nothing to do with God.
That’s when the prophets step in and interrupt us, insisting, “Everything you do or think or feel has to do with God. Every person you meet has to do with God.” We live in a vast world of interconnectedness, and the connections have consequences, either in things or people — and all the consequences come together in God. The biblical phrase for the coming together of consequences is Judgment Day.
We can’t be reminded too often or too forcefully of this reckoning. Zephaniah’s voice in the choir of prophets sustains the intensity, the urgency.
(The Message Numbered Edition copyright 2005 by Eugene H. Peterson)