You’ve heard it said, “What goes up must come down.” That refers to the law of gravity, but also to a spiritual principle: the proud will eventually fall. “If you think you stand, take heed lest you fall,” Paul says. In Lent, we’re called to give up our pride and hypocrisy, lest we fall.
Yet there’s another, more important law illustrated in yesterday’s readings: what goes down, must come up. Let’s grasp this for spiritual growth.
Consider the following:
“For as the rain and the snow come down from the earth, making it bring forth and sprout … so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)
God promises that the word he sends down and will return to him successfully. This has tremendous implication for our lives.
God’s word lifts up how we live
We need God’s word to lift us up. In James we read, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourself, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, and he will lift you up.” God’s word teaches us how to respond in humility, so that we can rise and approach God.
God’s word lifts up our prayers
In our Gospel reading yesterday, Jesus gives his disciples the Lord’s Prayer. First, Jesus tells the disciples not pray like the pagans, because God doesn’t hear vain repetitions. If we pray according to his word, however, we know that we’re using the kind of prayer that will go up to him.
God’s word lifts up all creation
At this point, we can widen the lens on God’s word. Remember that in Genesis, God spoke creation into being. The famous 16th Century scientist Johannes Kepler, also a trained theologian, said that when we study God’s creation, we’re “thinking God’s thoughts after him.”
God will redeem what he spoke into creation–it will not return to him empty. Yes, this is a fallen world, but God promises to redeem this world in Christ, uniting all things in heaven and earth in him (Eph 1:10). Jesus Christ is the living word who was raised from the cross, and we rise with with. In this manner, God will raise all of creation to a place higher than ever before.
Pulling it all together
How will God raise up the world? By going back to the first two points: when live God’s word and when we pray God’s word. The world is lifted up through us.
In yesterday’s Gospel passage on the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus says that he already knows what we’re going to pray for before we say it. Why then does he require our prayers? In part, it’s because God wants us to actively partner with him in the world’s redemption. Aquinas says that God is most glorified when he works through mediators, and that includes you and me.
So let’s focus on God’s word anew this Lent, because what goes down from God must go up. In so doing, we are raising not only ourselves, but our city, our society, even the entire world back to God through the redemption of our Lord Jesus Christ. Both in us and through us, O Lord: thy kingdom come!