“If our desire for justice is not rooted primarily in the pursuit of restoration, then reconciliation will be nearly impossible to achieve. It is precisely because grace is undeserved that makes it grace.” – Jamie Arpin-Ricci
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The people complained against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in the wilderness, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!” So the LORD sent among the people seraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of the Israelites died. Then the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you. Pray to the LORD to take the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses: Make a seraph and mount it on a pole, and everyone who has been bitten will look at it and recover.
In my opinion, this story is more allegory than literal fact.
It pretty much is a mirror for us to see how we still act in many circumstances.
When things get difficult, we look to place blame.
In today’s scripture, life had taken a turn for the people of God.
It all looked good at first as Moses was leading the people out of bondage.
But then suddenly they faced a shortage of food and water.
So they blamed Moses.
I doubt very much that God sent serpents to bite people.
God is love. Love doesn’t inflict violence and pain.
But this is how people of the time interpreted what was going on, as though God is responsible for causing everything.
Some people still do this.
But we all have free will, and nature seems to be free as well.
Sometimes life hands us challenges.
That’s what happens in this earthly realm.
The best response isn’t “why?” but “how?” — as in: How will I respond to this challenge?
But instead, the people again made the serpents the scapegoat for their problems.
The serpents were likely just being serpents and trying to protect themselves.
So what did God tell Moses? Mount the scapegoat – the serpent – on a pole, and the very thing the people are blaming will be their cure.
Years later, Jesus became the scapegoat mounted on a cross, to show people the folly and tragedy of making someone a scapegoat for their own problems.
When we look upon Jesus on the cross, we ought to see this tragedy and learn that we should not make scapegoats of others.
We ought to ask ourselves what the loving response would be to the troubling situation?
Jesus confronted both the religious and government leaders over their injustices to the marginalized, but he did that with non-violence.
The response of Jesus to the violent injustice done to him was to forgive.
Forgiveness heals all injustice.
The response of Jesus is not to win but to restore all to oneness.
How can we respond in love to challenges and injustices in our lives?
Our responses may require action to change the course of an injustice, but the action should always reflect our oneness in God and willingness to do the hard work of restoring all to wholeness.
This is impossible without grace!
As Jesus stated in John 17:22-23, “I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.”
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Remember: God loves you!