“Ephraim has hired lovers,” Hosea 9:9. Ephraim paid wages to consume a regular source of edification. Impersonal exchange yet wrought with human emotion and ecstatic elements. They got what they felt they needed at the time. But who was fit to bless? Who could love a neighbor? And who, save Hosea, had truly invested that which is required to attain vital resources of relationship? Who was fit to be a lover towards God and mankind?
A friend of mine expressed it so well. I caught her thought in the middle of a long conversation. She said, “I used to read the Bible only to get personally edified.” Give it a moment to sink in. Most of us would find nothing wrong with this. She was floundering, however, on the brink of her own obvious lack. She was struck with the deficiency in her past approach to Christiandom. All that represented Christianity, it’s sacred text and sacred buildings, had been a continual source of personal edification. The Church had been her passionate helper, preaching the co-dependent necessity of this edification. The edifice and the text sacredly exist solely for the purpose of personal edification. Somehow the thrust of faith is to suck as much edification from the Divine as possible.
I fear someone will accuse me of suggesting we do not need the Scriptures or communal fellowship. I assure you that I am saying quite the opposite. I am not questioning whether or not they are needed but what we perceive they are needed for. Have they become our hired lovers? Naturally they are an integral part of spiritual health. Edification in Scriptural passage and communal fellowship is a blessed necessity for survival. We need sustaining life from the Divine. Yet, I ask, is edification defined as my own mouth sucking in resource? Is this edification? I suck and slurp and strain and consume some more? This is mature edification defined… .truly?
God, please speak to me! Bless me! Give me… .give me, give me?
So, I asked my friend, after she had made the profound observation that seeking out her Scriptures to receive personal edification was not the great call of Christianity, I asked her this: How would your husband feel if he walked into this home each day and you responded by exclaiming, begging and pleading, “O, please speak to me! Give me a word today! Bless me! Show me your powers!”? You have perhaps perceived my point. This does not seem to be the proper approach to building a marriage of mutual care, respect and joys.
I have pondered this marital, Biblical and spiritual catastrophe for some time. Christianity has become a source of personal edification… .and edification only. My God and His prophet of pathos stand in our Valleys of Trouble and rend their hearts. We have not inquired much after their heart breaking cause. What do they want from us?
Speak to me! Give me a word! Bless me! Show me Your powers! “To me they cry. My God, we - Israel - know you,” Hosea 7:2.
Israel and I are liars at best in my soliloquies of love. We do not know Him nor do we love Him! We have not studied Him enough to do so. I have not looked deeply into those beautiful eyes, have not held those hands and purposely engaged the cause of this heart. I have not drown myself in the Divine pathos. To feel what He feels. See what He sees. Suffer what He suffers. I have not given this life for His life.
I am altered by my own understanding. I do know how to love, I simply have not done it. If I were honest and looked into the eyes of my God or my spouse, I know that I ought to study so that I can bless. To study and to bless. Can you find a deeper relational call than this? I cannot. It appears that my life-long mission is to study the heart of my God so that, informed, I will know how to bless it. This edification of mutual respect, satisfaction and joys is so much less about my straining to consume a necessary resource… .it is about my becoming resourceful in my blessing. I become a studier. I am edified, not from my undisciplined consumption, but by my purposeful study. And I use that edification to bless God and neighbor.
The edifice and the text, the Divine revelation and human community of faith are less my source of survival… .a hired lover I run to for my fill of words, blessing and power. They have become my opportunity to see and perceive, to study and be altered by obtained knowledge, to engage causes, like-mindedness, lament and suffering. To be a blessing onto because I have truly come to know. Divinity is a place I go to look into the matter of His heart and seek out a way to honor, bless and keep it. Holy Matrimony has led me through these solemn vows… .Selah…
“And now I ask you, dear lady…” dear Gomer, dear Israel, dear Christian.. “-not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning - that we may love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it,” 2 John 5-6. Study. Study the Divine heart, ponder its ways, apply them as a blessing returned to the Divine heart. Study your neighbor, ponder their ways, apply your knowledge of God and mankind to your purposeful act of blessing…. .for the edification and salvation of their souls. Study to bless. Love out of a studied commandment.