Scripture: Zephaniah 3:1-7
Key verse: (7) I said “Surely the city will fear me, it will accept correction; it will not lose sight of all that I have brought upon it.” But they were the more eager to make all their deeds corrupt.
Reflection: I was teaching a Bible study when the question came up, “Weren’t there some good people in the city? Isn’t it unfair that they are all lumped together to be punished?”
Yes, for our mindset, it is horribly unfair. I believe our culture (majority white, democratic, Western) values individuality and we understand scripture through that lens. We believe our faith is about our personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. That is certainly true but our faith isn’t limited to the personal and the individual. In scripture God calls people to faithfulness in community.
In today’s passage, the prophet Zephaniah is God’s messenger to proclaim judgment on the city of Jerusalem. Remember that Jerusalem was established as a capital city and was seen as the center of political and military power. The Temple was in Jerusalem so it was also the holy city of spiritual devotion. When Zephaniah challenges Jerusalem, he is challenging the government as well as the religious leadership. Zephaniah sees their failure to live justly according to God’s will for community life.
Whether we want to admit it or not, our community life affects us all. We aren’t hermits. We don’t live in complete isolation, self-sufficient and off the grid. Zephaniah reminds us that we are interconnected. He challenges “officials,” “judges,” “prophets” and “priests.” We all have a responsibility to hold our community leaders accountable to make just decisions that contribute to the well-being of everyone. Caring for the vulnerable, gathering the outcasts, lifting up the downtrodden, providing for the poor – these are the marks of faithfulness for community life for the prophets. How do we measure up?
Prayer: Forgive me, Lord, when I wrongly believe that I am self-sufficient. Remind me of all the ways I am connected to my community. Strengthen the fabric of our community life, our interdependence, so that we honor your will here. Amen.
Author: Millie Snyder
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].