Posted by: robbiexgibson | 18 November, 2009

The God of the Nations

Only 8 chapters to look at this week (Ezekiel 25-32)!

Our opening question was quite a long one and revolved around witnessing to other cultures and faiths. This question had resonance for a lot of up for the simple reason that here in France we are already strangers in a strange land, so the “other culture” may surround us every day. Of course, seen from that side we are the strange culture, and it was specifically mentioned that the Protestant church is often seen as a cult or sect by our Roman Catholic or atheist neighbours.

As far as the act of witnessing goes, most of us agreed that we found it easier to witness using our actions rather than our words. I was reminded of two quotes: “Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words,” (St. Francis of Assisi) and 1 Peter 3:15. Of course, this leads us to the question of how to provoke that question. When was the last time someone asked you to “give the reason for the hope that you have”? We also said that we found it much easier to share our faith with someone with whom we have already established a relationship.

Before leaving that discussion we also talked about the importance of witnessing at all. For example, is it important to evangelise to other people who are sincere about their other faith? And what if you can’t see any Good News for the person in front of you? The two questions were in fact linked, but involved using our imagination a bit to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and using what we know of God. For example: to a recently bereaved person the Good News might be that death is not the end, since God has conquered it; for a Muslim the Good News might be that salvation doesn’t need to be earned daily, since God’s free gift is available to all regardless of works. Feel free to add more examples in the comments!

As we moved on to look at the passage in depth, we looked at the surprisingly modern-sounding sins of the surrounding countries. (Some of us were particularly struck by an over-reliance on a strong trading economy as being listed as one of Tyre’s sins. Are we trusting in an ever-upwards stock or property market, to provide for our retirement? Is that wrong?) The warning here was clear: all the middle east, including Israel, had put their own idols in God’s place. His response was equally clear: everything that stands in His place will be destroyed, “so that the people will see that I am the LORD”. The fact that Israel wasn’t to be spared showed God’s justice, and the magnitude of the destruction showed God’s power. We then made a list of things that we put in God’s place: money, skills, jobs, control, family, cherished possessions. There was quite a male/female controversy some of them!

In conclusion we realised that God really is the God of all peoples, and he will use (and judge) all people. Non-Christians who don’t accept that are likely to fall into the idea that every road to God is the same (choice quote: “Most roads don’t lead anywhere. [But] I will travel any road to find you” – The Shack). Equally, if as Christians we don’t understand that God loves everybody equally then we are in danger of giving ourselves a narcissistic sense of self-importance.

PS James said that God is like a Dyson vacuum cleaner!

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