Violence and Love

Living in the Spirit
August 11, 2014

Scripture Reading: Genesis 45:1-15 

Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come closer to me.’ And they came closer. He said, ‘I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. —Genesis 45:4-5

My Sunday school class decided to study the book of 1 Kings this spring. Some felt they did not know much about this section of the Bible. Actually most of us did not know much about it. I am pretty sure now that some wished they hadn’t learned as much as we have. The history of the Kings of Israel following David’s death is pretty gory and cutthroat.

This has, however, been one of the best studies we have done that really forced us to grapple with the nature of God. Does God inflict evil to punish people for their sins? What about the innocents who get caught in the crossfire?  What is the source of evil? How come the “good” kings that are doing God’s will are just as violent or more so then the “bad” kings who did not follow God’s will? Actually using these rather barbaric stories by modern standards provide excellent fodder for dealing with such issues that occur in our world every day albeit usually at a less extreme level.

In our story today, Joseph has interpreted his brother’s selling him into slavery as a good thing. He says the result was that God sent Joseph ahead to preserve life, not only the lives of his family but the lives of many people throughout that area impacted by the famine. One thing my class pretty much agreed on in our study of Kings was that God works God’s purpose out in whatever muck we may throw at God.

So where does that leave us? There are a lot of really evil things that happen in our world every day. We as followers of Jesus Christ have chosen a path for life that is paved with love. God is working toward a world ruled by that love. We are called to work beside God and with God to the end that love will overcome evil. It actually already has in the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayer: God who is Love, we don’t understand the violence of the Israelite kingdoms some three thousand years ago any better than we understand the violence in our world today. We do know that your desire is that we live love in all that we do. We do know that we can only do that through your amazing grace. Strengthen us for the tasks you set before us. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.