Read: Deuteronomy 25.1-3 (NRSV)
“If it bleeds it leads,” has been a longstanding assumption in the news and entertainment industries. Our culture defines opinion rating and stars of success by the number of deaths, accidents, abductions, and fatalities, and cruelty in the world. Yet, we know cruelty is not the norm; it is not every acceptable for one human being to treat another with cruelty. Our problem is discerning cruelty and simple disagreement of opinions and feels compared to the harm an organized and politized group can inflect in the name of fighting cruelty with the cruelty of a different flavor. Name any social problem and the solution is not to find the person or institution to blame and heap on all the punishment. For example, racism is not about white people being less white, it is about all persons with legitimate power, no matter the skin color, learning and sharing power and responsibility. I have often said that financial fines for speeding will raise money for the city or county, but it will not stop drivers who want to speed. To slow down a hasty driver, let them work the scenes of accidents and comfort the family of fatalities who has died in speeding incidents. A paid fine will not restore heal or life to someone who has died in a crash. So, what does cruelty have to do with our spiritual life? On this day of our Lenten journey toward the cross, how do we make powerful course corrections in our spiritual life? Remember our goals of trusting God and making disciples. God allowed the Hebrews to wander in the wilderness until the second generation shared the faith with the third generation. The Goal is not the land; it is the relationship of faith and trust in God. What is most important to us? What is more important to us than the time, money, energy we invest with God? God is not always fair but is always gracious. God creates us uniquely for a reason. God has different degrees of expectations in our lives, but God desires our devotion, love, and trust from each of us. God expects us to trust and love with all that we have. When the world, and even we ourselves, are acting in ways that are cruel, we are not trusting God. It is cruel for us to use God’s resources, life, sacrifice, and time to live without God at the heart of all we do.
Call to Action: Offer an apology to someone you have hurt and accept the apology of someone who repents toward you.
Prayer: Help my words, thoughts, and deeds not be cruel and move toward healing my relationships and growing my heart with you and my neighbor. Amen.