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Archive for Saturday, July 30, 2005

Faith forum

July 30, 2005

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How much does God intervene in human affairs?

Luck is often a caring God's intervention

The Rev. Donald Miller, senior pastor, Immanuel Lutheran Church and University Student Center, 2104 Bob Billings Parkway:

God has and continues to intervene in human affairs. The things we call luck, chance or unexplainable are often God's intervention: a person diagnosed with an incurable, terminal illness who is cured and given a complete clean bill of health or those who survived or didn't arrive at the twin towers as usual on 9-11. However, in order to see these as God's intervention, we must have eyes of faith in a God who cares about his creation and creatures.

God knows us so intimately and personally that he provides care and protection. As Jesus says in Matthew 6:26, "Look at the birds : your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren't you much more valuable than they?" The Bible says at times God intervenes in human affairs himself through angels, or through others around us.

His intervention comes in the realm of love, care and forgiveness in a world created by him. However, in rebellion, which still occurs today, Adam and Eve decided to try things their way and, as God declared, sin and evil entered the world. The ultimate result of sin and evil is separation from God now and eternally, as well as evil and chaos in our world.

Though with God justice must prevail ["The wages of sin is death" (eternal separation from God) Romans 6:23], God intervened in history by loving us enough to send his son, Jesus, to live and die for our sin, and rising again to grant us the gift of forgiveness, which we did not deserve (John 3:16). Still God intervenes in our lives by giving us the opportunity of life with him now and forever as we receive, personally, that gift of forgiveness.

- Send e-mail to the Rev. Donald Miller at pastordon@ilcusc.org.

God encourages us to pilot our own course

John Brewer, member, Unitarian Fellowship of Lawrence, 1263 North 1100 Road:

When asked about divine intervention, a Unitarian-Universalist may well respond: "How much does God encourage us to intervene in our own affairs?"

My answer to the rephrased question would be "a lot." Whether we are Buddhists, Jews or Muslims, we are challenged by our wise traditions to be compassionate on an individual basis and to demand justice on a communal basis. Justice includes fair treatment of all and protection of vulnerable individuals and groups. Because these are often hard rows to hoe, we may fail to heed the challenge or take lengthy vacations from it.

It is at that point, I suspect, that God (or however we conceive of a transcendent mentor) is most likely to step in, subtly coaxing us, as God subtly coaxed Jonah, to turn our shoulders back to the wheel. Why, for example, does a slave trader like John Newton eventually experience a change of heart and come to champion the cause of abolition? How does George Fox, raised without a formal education in the high-church culture of Anglican England, suddenly determine that church buildings and formality are an impediment to salvation and go on to found Quakerism - a movement radically at odds with conventional Christianity? We can't say for sure, but we can affirm our faith that they and a lot of others had some help.

While we may differ as to the source of inspired deeds, we can unite in our gratitude for them and for the vision and courage of those who undertook them. Their examples (whether we like it or not) have become interventions in our lives.

- Send e-mail to John Brewer at jbrewer@sunflower.com.

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