A Secular or Sacred Witness?

It is natural for people of faith to ally with secular organizations and approaches. We may even see the spirit of God in movements that bring life and hope. Nonetheless, this month’s biblical passages present traditions and truths that are clearly centered in God. They provide wisdom, vision, and hope beyond what can be found in helpful—yet limited—secular sources.

The 2 Samuel and 1 Kings readings spotlight kings who heed God’s call, listen carefully to prophetic voices, plead for forgiveness, and pay attention to holy dreams. There is nary an opinion poll or focus group to be found!

The letter to the Ephesians exalts Christ. The cosmic peace that is salvation begins with the individual receiving new life and being baptized into the church. The gospel lessons from John offer Christ as eucharistic nourishment. Would-be Solomons are told that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111) and that their best internships will be as doorkeepers (Psalm 84).

Is our social witness spiritual? These readings provide guidelines, challenges, and a vision of faithful witness in and to the world. There are qualities that make the political and cultural work of Christians different than how we would proceed sans faith. There are benchmarks of faithfulness on this path. Power and persistence are hallmarks; so is humility. Our grit and determination will fall short if we insist on going it alone. Is not the God who redeemed Israel (Psalm 13) the one who will redeem nations today?

Robert Roth is a writer and social activist in East Lansing, Michigan.

August 6

Speaking in Love

2 Samuel 11:26-12:13; Psalm 51:1-12; Ephesians 4:1-16; John 6:24-35

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Sojourners Magazine August 2006
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