Google: What did we search for in 2014?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVwHCGAr_OE
On Tuesday this past week we heard the President's annual "State of the Union" address. One day later here in New York we heard the governor's State of the State address. Since 1790, when President Washington turned in hand-written report in compliance with Article II, section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, presidents' have used the address to bolster their work, set forth an agenda, and lay the groundwork of a legacy. Initially just called "The President's Annual Message to Congress," Franklin Roosevelt changed it to "State of the Union" in 1934 and it has stuck since then.
The "State of the Union" address has got me thinking. What if God issued a "State of the Soul" address to each of us every year? What would we expect to hear? Here is a wide range of opinions. There is one pastor causing a stir because he claims God's State of the Union address where he claims our President is following Satan, making homosexuality the key point of his address (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/30/pastor-obama-satan-_n_4690946.html). Another pastor wrote a "God's State of the Union Address" in her blog, highlighting what scriptures have to say on key social issues. ( http://www.susangaddis.net/2015/01/state-of-the-union/). I encourage you to look at these vastly different takes on "God's State of the Union Address." What do you think?More importantly, what is God saying to us about how we are living our life and how we are living together with mindfulness?
The Scriptures do indeed contain the key to God's State of the Union. Consider these:
Jesus' first State of the Union Address reiterated the words of the Prophet Isaiah: (Luke 4:16-21)
"And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’
And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
Matthew 5-7, the Sermon on the Mount can be considered Jesus' Second State of the Union Address. It is too long to include here -- but I encourage you to read it in its entirety. Here are a few well known verses:
5 When Jesus[a] saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely[b] on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Jesus' third State of the Union Address could be summarized in two brief passages:
First from Luke 26-28:
26And He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?" 27And he answered, "YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." 28And He said to him, "You have answered correctly; DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE."…
and from John 13:
34"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35"By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
So the question for each of us is, how do we measure ourselves against the rule of love? Remember how Paul laid it out for us in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:
4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends....
Whatever you believe, each of us needs to prepare our "State of the Soul Address." How well have we loved God and our neighbor in 2014? Read these passages carefully again. Where have we succeeded in the ways of love? Where are our deficits? have we been envious, boastful, rude; have we been bent on getting our way? Are we irritable or resentful? How is our endurance? In these sample verses we can find where God calling us to stretch ourselves in 2015 in our ability to love and care for our neighbor.
We set goals for financial gain. We set goals for personal development. We set goals for weight loss. We set goals for advancing in our careers. Now let us set goals for our soul -- for it is the most important action we can do for ourselves to create a life that is truly worth living. Write your "State of the Soul" address first on paper. Then write your "State of the Soul" address in the deeds you carry out, every day of your life. It may be hard -- but the good news is, with God's help, it is not impossible.
What is the State of my Soul?
What is God's Address to me?
Pray: "Nothing is impossible with you, o God, so help me love with all the strength, heart and will I possess -- and love through me. May this Love never end."