See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
Today is Thursday the 27 February, in the season of Lent.
It is the Spirit of love who gives life. God is the source of all life, the one in whom we live and move and have our being. As I look around me now, at the people around me, the “Spirit of love” may not be easy to see, but, if I try, can I sense God’s presence? Can I sense God’s Holy Spirit here? In these people? In me?
Today’s reading is from the book of Deuteronomy.
“It’s not a matter of life and death” we sometimes say. But this reading seems to be telling us that we have choices to make in our lives – perhaps many times, perhaps every day – where we are ultimately choosing between life and death: Death, when I act out of anger or vengeance or hate, when I ignore, neglect, dismiss the needs of others, when I lie or cover up or avoid the truth; Life when I do what I know to be right, even if it costs me, when I care and nurture and support, when I speak the truth in love. Can I think of choices that I have made, or that I have yet to make – perhaps choices I will make today – that give life or take it away?
What, for me, are the ‘other gods’ this passage talks about, the ‘other gods’ in my life that I might be tempted to bow down and serve? … the gods who lead me away from the path of life?
As I listen to the passage again, and hear these words, do they bring to mind any choices I face in my life?
God is not indifferent. God does not say, “it’s up to you, do what you like… whatever”. God appeals to me to choose life. I can be a life-giver, co-operating in the life-giving work of God. Does that prospect appeal to me? Is that what I want to do, what I want to be? If it is, can I make that desire my prayer to God today?