Let God Usefully Disturb You

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler
2018 8 Nov

Am image of a close-up of a person's brown eye with a tear coming from it.

Why is it easier to entrust ourselves to a God of mercy rather than justice? Perhaps because we tend to minimize the effects of sin on ourselves and others, failing to realize that goodness can’t be goodness without justice.

I remember how, several years ago, the media was startled by a rave review of the then-latest James Bond movie, Skyfall, that appeared in L'Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper of Vatican City. Four years earlier a United Methodist pastoral counselor published a Bible study with the unusual title: Ian Fleming's Seven Deadlier Sins and 007's Moral Compass. The study focuses on the theme of the seven deadly sins as it threads its way through Ian Fleming’s novels. The publisher’s description calls it “a book that will usefully disturb you….”1

I wonder how often I am “usefully disturbed” by the things that disturb God. Have I become so tolerant of certain kinds of evil that I hardly recognize them? Have I fallen into the trap of moral cowardice, afraid to speak against certain kinds of injustice because I’m afraid of how others might react?

I’m not thinking about obvious sins like robbery or rape but about the sins our culture cherishes, those linked to pleasure and convenience. How tolerant am I, for instance, of greed and sexual immorality? The last recession highlighted the devastation greed can inflict on innocent people. But what about sexual immorality? By contributing to the decline of the family, hasn’t the lack of restraint in our sexual behaviors forced many more women and children into poverty? Hasn’t it created an enormous market for convenient methods of terminating unplanned pregnancies, resulting in the deaths of millions of children?

Many of us see poor women as powerless and oppressed, which they often are. But think of the relative powerlessness of the children they carry in their wombs. Whenever we allow abortion to function as a solution to the problems of poverty, we allow poverty to claim not one victim but two. God’s justice demands more—it asks that we serve not only the poor we can see but also the poor we cannot see.

Let’s ask God to scour and purify our hearts, making us men and women who hunger and thirst for righteousness, just as he does, confident that he will satisfy us as we work for justice wherever we are.

1. Michael Gryboski, The Christian Post, November 1, 2012, posted on http://www.christianpost.com/news/vatican-paper-speaks-highly-of-latest-james-bond-film-84276/#RMwWSmPm2QGtwEsa.99.