Repent from the gods of Violence – GVBS – Lent 3, Year C

Welcome to the Girardian Virtual Bible Study! Each week we explore the lectionary passage with the help of René Girard’s insights into human relationships. We hope you enjoy this installment of the GVBS. Join us next week at 10 am Central on the Raven Foundation Facebook page for the live show. The show notes and video recording are below. This week’s episode explores Lent 3, Year C, Isaiah 55:1-9 and Luke 13:1-9. 

Introduction

Adam and Lindsey talk about how the Lectionary seems to always provide us with relevant passages for our current events. For example, today was have passages from Isaiah and Luke that speak to contemporary events.

Isaiah 55:1-9

This passage was written by Second Isaiah, who wrote during the Babylonian Exile. It was one of the most horrific periods of Jewish history. The Babylonians destroyed the city, killed many of the people, and sent others off into exile.

It was a time of political upheaval and stress. It also brought an identity crisis. Who are we? Is God on our side? Are the Babylonian gods the real gods?

Isaiah brought words of hope. The passage ends with these famous words:

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

There are some who have interpreted this passage as saying that God is all-powerful and in control, and so God can do whatever God wants to do. God’s ways are higher than our ways and God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts, so stop asking questions about the Babylonian Exile. God caused it to happen, so suck it up.

But that’s not what this passage says. God’s ways and thoughts are explicitly connected to mercy and pardoning, not to violence! God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours in that God is far more merciful and forgiving than our thoughts can ever be – and can ever comprehend.

The beginning of the passage shows us how to live into God’s mercy and forgiveness:

Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.

Isaiah encourages us to care for those in need – rich and poor are able to eat without price! What would happen if Christians took that seriously? How would it change our lives and our culture?

Luke 13:1-9 – Repent!

Whenever religious people demand repentance, I roll my eyes. Not because I don’t think we need to repent, but the question is, “What do we need to repent from?”

In our passage, Pilate has just killed a group of Galileans who were making sacrifices at the Temple. And the tower at Siloam just fell, killing some people. Some were trying to figure out why these tragedies happened…It must be because they were sinners! They should have repented! It’s good to know that we aren’t sinners. The evidence for it is that God hasn’t knocked us off through political violence or a natural catastrophe.

Jesus tells the people to repent from that idea. Why? Because they are stuck in a cycle of accusation. They think God is violently against people, and so they can be violently against people, too. But all this leads to is a cycle of accusation and violence. So stop the cycle of accusation because that tree doesn’t lead to good fruit. Instead, trim the tree, give it manure, water it. Do all you can to help it bear good fruit that leads us away from violence and toward the God of mercy and forgiveness.

 

 

 

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3 replies
  1. Omar reyed
    Omar reyed says:

    That you for the very insightful Bible study I have not heard of this way of looking at the Bible. Nonviolent atonement but I find it very interesting. Is there anywhere I can take a class on this?

    Reply
  2. Omar reyes
    Omar reyes says:

    That you for the very insightful Bible study I have not heard of this way of looking at the Bible. Nonviolent atonement but I find it very interesting. Is there anywhere I can take a class on this?

    Reply

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