Hosea 2:19-20 I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.
Meaningful relationships can be hard to sustain, with all the expectations that we encounter daily. Being parents, spouses, siblings, friends, and employees requires us to give a lot of ourselves to others, and when situations like the coronavirus and other trials come, keeping those relationships healthy can be problematic.
As I read the book of Hosea, one of the Minor Prophets, I was struck by both God’s judgment of Israel’s unfaithfulness with other gods and of His forgiveness and desire to reconnect with them in relationships. Although they would face exile and financial and military defeats because of their actions, still He lets the Israelites know of His immense and unfailing love for them. Hurt by their refusal to recognize Him as the source of their blessings, He nevertheless informs them through the prophet that he still wants to honor the covenant that was made with their ancestors.
The Lord offers to them relationships based on the qualities of righteousness, justice, love, compassion, and faithfulness, attributes that define the goodness, mercy, and grace of God. To betroth means that two parties agree to enter into an covenant, with each honoring the expectations of their various roles. God was promising to be gracious and loving to them, if they repented and acknowledged His goodness in their lives.
I struggled in this last year to be the woman of God that I have been called to be, mainly because for me, attending church and participating in ministries were my definition of being a Christian. Even though I watch church services on Zoom or Facebook Live, I missed the warmth of the meet and greet time, shaking hands and speaking words of love and hope to each other, praying together with arms around each other.
But, one thing that this year has shown me is that being a part of the Church or the Body of Christ, meaning our relationships with the Lord and His expectations of us as people of God, isn’t just what we do between four walls, but is also about how we live our lives. Therefore, the scripture today reminds us to imitate God in our relationships with family, friends, believers, and unbelievers, demonstrating God’s love, compassion, and righteousness (doing what is right in His sight), as well as being faithful to the promises that we have made to others and advocating (being a voice for those who have been silenced) for justice for all people. We don’t need walls to be the people of God!