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March 3, 2024

When We Forget Who We Are

Pastor KJ Kim

Isaiah 55: 1-9; Luke 13: 1-5

In today’s passage, the prophet Isaiah calls the people of God back to their true identity with a different purpose in the world. Often, we have been persuaded that our goal is to succeed in the rat race of the empire. However, God has other plans in mind.

Maybe our thought is to be safer, to make ourselves safer by more money by a larger 401K account, more success, more security, higher degrees and positions, and so on. More focus on us and our well-being. However, God’s thought is otherwise. God thought to create a special community of covenantal believers who could dream, plant, and build the new world within the old world of empire.

We all wish there is no gap between our thoughts and God’s thoughts; however, it often becomes a conflict. Yes, be aware of the deep contradiction between my thought and God’s thought, and my way and God’s way is just the beginning of work for this Lent. Thus, it is an ongoing and daily process and task to rethink that contradiction, to clarify identity, to return to our true selves, and away from the illusion—that the empire of money and power
might make us feel safer or happier.

In today’s passage, our thoughts might be crushed by Isaiah’s prophecy, which comes from God’s thought—the new world where wine, milk, and bread are freely given without shame and guilt. Isaiah tells us that there was enough bread and meat and water all given freely, all without cost, all inexplicable, all because of the generosity of God.

So, the questions arise as we meditate on today’s passage, especially verse 2, “Why” “Why do we spend our money for that which is not bread, and our labor for that which does not satisfy?” We all know it is not a healthy life—to join the rat race of the empire. We probably keep doing it because we have forgotten our purpose and our identity and our vocation—we are God’s people, we are Easter people, not the citizens of the empire.

The world, maybe within the old world of empire, we are taught and even encouraged to pursue that “big is better, faster is better, more is better; doing two things at once is better.” That is why we come to today’s gospel lesson, just like the same message we read last Sunday—“change our heart, change our loyalties, change our membership and citizenship.”

Lent is a time we recognize that contradiction in which we are very often caught and struggled. Lent is a time we decide to come back to our true identity, our purpose, and our vocation. Lent is a time to sort things out. In this sense, Lent is a gift and another chance for us to live gospel lives by putting down our thoughts and ways but seeking, embracing, and following God’s thoughts and ways.

Thanks be to God.

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