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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

September 8, 2017

Cliches can have real meaning

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

"God bless you", "God bless us", "God be with you" – phrases like that are familiar to many churchgoers, and sometimes you even hear a politician saying something similar.

Some people who hear those phrases – churchgoers included – don 't really think that much about them. "Typical religious cliches" is how others might react. Just like a memorized prayer that is just repeated out of habit, these blessings can become routine for both the speaker and the hearer.

But people who experience a natural disaster or who live in a dangerous region would likely think quite differently. People are comforted with the thought that God is near when the earth shakes, the wind rages, the flood waters rush in or the bullets and grenades fly. And that is true of those who might not otherwise think of God often.

When people are doing well materially, they tend to forgot God or think that they might not need Him immediately. God warned the ancient Israelites about this attitude: "When you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God" (Deuteronomy 8:12-14).

Of course, it 's perfectly ok to rejoice when God provides us physical blessings and safety. But as important as such things may be in this life, they are nothing in comparison to the eternal life that God wants to share with us as members of His family. King David prayed: "In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11).

Those who think that "God be with you" is just a religious cliche should consider the opposite. A life without God means eventual eternal alienation from Him and life. Eternal life with God is the greatest blessing that we can imagine. And that blessing will be ours if God is with us every day in our daily awareness.

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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