do not doubt in your heart

PRinc_rm_arteriogram_of_healthy_heart

This verse has been playing through my head this past week since it was part of the Daily Lectionary. It comes from Mark 11:23

Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you.

As I lead Bible Studies or discussion with people I always tell people that it is essential that we look deeply into texts and it is ok to question what may be written and at times possibly even doubt it! It is human nature to doubt and question and this usually happens within our minds. As we doubt and question, it allows us to build an even deeper relationship with God, or whatever we are studying, because we must delve even deeper into the subject and gain a greater understanding.

This verse from Mark struck me differently though because it says do not doubt in your heart. We doubt in our minds all of the time many things, whether it be our own personal actions or those actions of others; it may even be that we doubt God at times. However, it is in our hearts that God has written the law. From a few appearances in the Hebrew Bible this is mentioned, one being Psalm 40:8

I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.

So my question, Is it possible to ever doubt in our heart? For the very presence of God is within our own being and in that we embrace the eternal relationship which is God. May we nurture that relationship as we live into the mystery.

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The Order of Melchizedek

melchizadeck

One of the Lectionary readings for this coming Sunday is Hebrews 5:1-10. We get a brief glimpse and mention of a priest named Melchizedek. Don’t be discouraged if you have no clue who this reference is to. He has little reference throughout the Bible, yet appears to be someone that we should somewhat look up to. The author of Hebrews places Jesus in the same realm, with God telling Christ, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.” (vs 6)

Melchizedek is mentioned twice in the Hebrew Bible (Genesis 14:18-20 and Psalm 110:4). He comes even before the Levitical priesthood and could thus be seen as one of the first priests, as Abraham paid tithes to him. The author of Hebrews goes into further discussion on Melchizedek in chapter 7.

For Christ to be a part of this priesthood, it shows his importance outside of the hereditary line of the Levitical priests and therefore the author of Hebrews may be trying to garner a little more support for Christ. The image of Jesus being a “priest” is nearly foreign to the New Testament, yet this image is an important one among the Hebrew people and places an authority within Christ that some may not have recognized otherwise.

Does it matter to us today whether Christ is part of this “priesthood”? I am not sure if that is necessary in light of the rest of the Gospel that we have to follow. It does though allow us to make some connections to the Hebrew ancestry.

What Constitutes Adultery?

I will admit that as a pastor I was confronted by the usual internal question of, “how am I going to preach good news to this text” this past week. The assigned gospel lesson for this past Sunday was Mark 10:2-16, which has Jesus responding to the Pharisees question, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” I thought I did a decent job responding to this text and looking a little deeper into what Jesus speaks to and how he seems to be speaking of an equality in the entire passage. After Sunday, I figured I would be done with this text and could then move forward to the next weeks lesson.

However, as I sit down Monday morning to read the assigned readings from my devotional, Bread For the Day, I found texts relating to divorce and adultery once again. It happened again yesterday. And once again the readings this morning spoke to these questions. The thought of adultery today does not seem to have the same weight has it did centuries ago, even though there was probably just as much promiscuity occurring. They just didn’t have television, internet, or Facebook to share the lurid details!

In marriage I have committed my life to my spouse and the thought of doing anything to risk that does not entice me. At one point Jesus says that even by looking at someone else you may commit adultery in your heart; I guess in this regard most of us could probably be found guilty.

As I read this mornings readings though, I began to think of more of those things that we can do that lead us to commit adultery against God. What in our lives have we placed before God? It could be an addiction (alcohol, drugs, pornography), the love of money, misplaced priorities, and many more things. We are called to be in a relationship with God, just as we are with our partner in life.

As we turn away from God and are distracted by other things, we may not be committing adultery in the common understanding of the word, yet we are still sinning against God’s word. No one is an exception to this and this is where we can accept the gift of grace which is bestowed upon all of God’s children. In God we find healing and forgiveness as we come back to God.