Water Mosaic echoes from home

pondering the mysteries, simplicity, and humor of life

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Piety or Justice?

"But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness"

Throughout my life, I have tried to read the Bible. I'm not very good at it. Once I did that "Read the Bible in a Year" thing with the little pamplet that keeps you on track for a daily reading in both Testaments. I've tried to meditate when I would read. Other times I would underline important words or sentences, sometimes even paragraphs. Sometimes I would read it just to read it and feel good about my relationship with God. I would also ignore the book, but feel a certain shame for not lingering in its presences each morning or evening. I have several Bibles even though I'm not sure why that is. Some have been worn and have collected many memories throughout the years; while some have set on my bookcase collecting dusty. I like the Bible. It doesn't give me all the answers to life's mysteries, but it shows me a story of beauty.

I've stopped reading my Bible for almost a year now. Now my classes (theology) require that I read it so I do, but in regards to a "quiet time" or alone time, I quit that. Mainly because I was tired of placing my "quiet time" as a leverage to my relationship with God. If I did read and pray, I would feel close to the Divine; if not, then I shamed myself and felt guilty.

That being said, I guess I have always thought that one should focus on their own relationship with God as some sort of individual "best friend" ideal. Lately (more like a year now) I don't see that as being completely the goal (telos). Yes, I should try to draw close to God, but that is not exclusively bound to individual "quiet time." Drawing close to God might surface through me drawing close to my neighbor. Seeing them and treating them as if they were Jesus.

So when I read this verse, I immediantely think that I should pursue some sort of pious righteousness, for my own gain. But what if this righteousness didn't mean personal piety, but meant justice. Justice to my neighbor, to our environment, to economic systems, to war and poverty and genocide. Justice even to myself. Maybe God's dream (kingdom) is for justice to surround this planet, for all to be treated equally and love to reign.

I'm sure I'll read my Bible again, maybe each day, maybe scatered days. And when I do, I'll not feel as if my life depended on it.