April 6 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“He told them what Micah had done for him, and said,
‘He has hired me and I am his priest.’” ~Judges 18:4

Idolatry. Violence. Sexual depravity. The narrator does not shy away from tough topics in this section, but rather provides a window into Israel’s soul during the period of the judges. Priests, like Moses’ grandson Jonathan, tell people what they want to hear and sell their services to the highest bidder (Judg. 18:6, 30). Better-off families even set up their own “chapels” with paid ministers whose words and deeds are easily manipulated (Judg. 17). (Financial support directed to the priesthood is diminishing during this period.) What is more, hospitality, a marked feature of Israelite culture, is a dying practice, and the town square becomes a dangerous place to loiter (Judg. 19:15, 20).

The potential for decay is inherent in any group of people. Scripture is replete with examples: the people destroyed by the flood, Babel, Sodom, Canaan, and now Israel. Cultural decay remains a lingering possibility until Christ returns and makes all things new. Modern Christians live with the challenge of discerning when and how to act if the culture in which they live is in moral decline. Many have already decided what stance they will take. Some retreat from the world (the Amish, for example), others fight the world (often through protests and legislation), and a few compromise with the world.

In the fifth century, the great theologian Augustine, facing a similar question, made an important contribution to Christian thinking through his book, City of God. Augustine argued for the believers’s dual-citizenship in the City of God and the City of Man. As modern Christians, we must know what our responsibilities are as citizens of each “city.” In the City of God, the church, we must hold firmly to biblical values, proclaim them with love and passion, and invite the world to marvel at the beauty of God by living irresistible lives! One of the best ways to influence the City of Man is through the spread of the gospel. Legislation is helpful, but heart change is the greatest need. Therefore, we must do our utmost to positively influence other City of Man citizens with our life and witness. We can also influence culture by praying, voting, and participating in the democratic process, at least in Western culture.

In the City of God, Christians have reason to expect others to conform to biblical standards (see 1 Cor. 5), but we cannot expect the same in the City of Man, nor can we always make those citizens do so. What we can do is eat with sinners who practice things that bother us in order to win them. We can be like Jesus, who lived out what He believed in a sinful world, while reaching out to sinners in need of salvation. We can be people of conviction and courage while also holding to our convictions in love and humility. And we can pray for the City of God (the global church and your local church) and the City of Man (your nation). Ask God to bless both “cities” and to help you be a faithful citizen in each.

Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.