Religion

Faith Matters: As the holidays approach, start majoring on the minors for a season

While picking out songs for our upcoming Christmas services, I reminisced on questionable hymn selections of yesteryear. In my opinion, unknown minor songs are often minors for a reason.

But not all minors remain minors for good reasons. We should expect opportunities where it benefits the Church to actually major on the minors.

Our church bible reading plan is leading us through some minor parts of the old testament that don’t get a lot of “air play.” I guess you could call them “indie” label prophets.

This section, also known as “The Twelve,” begins with Hosea and ends with Malachi. The name “Minor” doesn’t designate importance but length when compared with the “Major” label prophets such as Jeremiah, Ezekiel, or Isaiah.

Yet over time, they have fallen to a “minor” level of importance and place in the believer’s life. Sometimes discerning the context, and understanding names, nicknames, locations and history does take a little work on the front end.

But with such a resource as “The Bible Project,” an online collection of concise videos with all of the necessary background info, a five-minute illustrative video on a particular book more than suffices.

Our community group recently had a helpful discussion on the first chapter from the minor prophet Nahum. In this sequel to Jonah, we see that Ninevite repentance went the way of all things Pumpkin spice, appearing only for a short season. They soon returned to the violence and injustice that put their ruthless nation on the map. As a result God, promised to remove them from it.

Now that doesn’t initially sound devotional, inviting or even relevant. Suburbanites don’t like to talk about judgment, and instead focus exclusively on God’s love.

Why? Because our lives remain relatively comfortable compared to Nahum’s setting in the eighth century B.C. Those who find judgment a topic too hard to handle most often experience plenty of peace, power, protection and prominence.

We often forget that for much of biblical history, God’s people prevailed as a persecuted and oppressed minority, not a dominant majority. They were indeed minors. Many of His people living in China, Syria or North Korea find Nahum’s writings far more relevant than they would like.

But for such folks, judgment becomes devotional and inviting. Without the hope for justice, darkness and despair would dominant even the daylight hours. God’s future punishment brings comfort to those presently afflicted.

Let me contextualize it this way. How do you feel when you see a police car? When driving, our blood pressure usually goes up with the fear of potential punishment. What did I do wrong?

Yet what happens when we see the same police car while walking though a rough part of town or an unlit park late at night? Doesn’t the presence of justice bring our blood pressure down when we find ourselves in need of it?

The minor prophet Nahum invites us to identify with and join those who suffer injustice at an individual or systemic level.

When Jesus came and delivered his famous Sermon on the Mount, he revealed the high bar of moral perfection upon which all would be judged. All fall short in deed, motivation, and even thought.

As a result, our demand for fairness gets turned on its head. If honest, what we want in the end is not fairness across the board, but grace. Jesus the judge read the verdict and gladly took the death sentence in the believer’s place.

As a result, our lives can become characterized by a pursuit of justice without retaliation, hope instead of despair, and empathy in lieu of judgment.

Do yourself and your neighbor a favor, and start majoring on the minors for a season.

Contact Pastor Geoff Henderson at geoff@harborcommunitychurch.org or follow him on Twitter @theapostleGH. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday’s Bradenton Herald written by local clergy members.

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