2 Chronicles 30:13-27, Nehemiah 8:7-12, Jeremiah 15:16
The world is supposedly becoming Post-Christian. The thought behind the term is that the “Christian Era” was when Christianity was dominant throughout the world as if Emperor Constantine’s edict of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire made Christianity instantly accessible, understandable, and pervasive.
The sad part is there is a superficial truth to that. What did happen is that Western Europe and then by extension North America became the dominant influencers for generations. The church ignorantly (or stupidly) allowed governments to drape themselves in religious imagery and language. The rot finally came to a culmination point, and the church and the governments are dividing. Many in the church (and many politicians who derived power from the people in the church) are decrying the loss. Yet, acknowledging the rot we collectively allowed to set in will be a good step moving forward.
The real rot is ignorance. The church itself has allowed ignorance of its own beliefs to set it. It would avoid the questions the world asked, then stick its head into the sand, as if that would somehow fix everything.
In 2 Chronicles, the people were ignorant of how to celebrate Passover. Think of it as forgetting how to celebrate Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, and Pentecost all at once. They were afflicted as a result of their ignorance, but in the end, grace poured out and true joy was expressed.
We are at the point that the Jews were at in the passages we read today. The passage in Nehemiah displays the ignorance of the Jews regarding their own history and religious practices. The disconnect between what they knew and the Truth caused many to mourn. Despite their ignorance, they were there in body, heart, soul, and mind. That is what mattered. Joy poured out of them!
Jeremiah’s words apply not just to the passages that we read in the Old Testament, they apply to us today! Ignorance is not a good excuse! God can and will use anyone who responds. Sometimes, though, we have to learn where we went wrong. Then we can see where God moved us and proclaimed us his children of the inheritance. Then joy will pour out of us, too.
1) Why are people ignorant of the underpinnings of the Christian faith? What is one thing you can do (while speaking the Truth in love) to help that?
2) Why might an understanding of God’s grace lead to true joy?
3) If grace leads to true joy, what can you do to extend grace to others to demonstrate God’s grace?