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Faith column: Of former Minnesotans and Malachi’s message

If you’re looking for something to make you feel warm and fuzzy, this isn’t the book for you. But if you’re interested in the truth, I highly recommend it.

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Chad Werkhoven
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I grew up in the far away land of southern California. But don’t feel sorry for me, for I was privileged to live in a community chock full of expatriated Minnesotans; folks who had fled the flatland in search of a better future (or at least warmer winters).

These people had wretched recollections of the state they left. As children, we’d sit around in wide-eyed wonder as they told tales of never ending winters and oppressively humid summers. They recounted how defenseless neighbors had been carried away by mosquitoes the size of small cars. Worst of all, in between sobs, they described their professional football team, which began each season full of promise, but who hadn’t even been to a Super Bowl since 1977.

As it turns out, I’m not entirely certain their reports were entirely accurate.

In the time I’ve lived here, I still have yet to see a rope tied between the barn and the house to keep frigid farmers from wandering off during whiteouts. Yes, we have a few days each summer that are a bit muggy, but they’re far outweighed by days that are perfectly pleasant. And the mosquitoes are held in check by a city truck that drives around town at night spewing some sort of non-toxic (?) plume.

All of us are subject to a phenomenon known as confirmation bias. In the case of these former Minnesotans, their bias caused them to remember things that justified their move to California and forget all other evidence to the contrary.

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But I must also take into account my own ignorance when considering their claims. I’ve only lived here for three years, and they’ve all been pretty mild. Maybe the day will come when I lose my way in a blizzard or get carted off by a giant bug. After all, it does seem that they were telling the truth about the Vikings (although it was sometimes hard to understand the strange sounds they made: barbaric sounding words like ‘uffda,’ ‘ope’ and ‘dontcha know’).

We’ve been reading the Old Testament book of Malachi this week as part of our church’s Bible reading plan. It’s a short book (four chapters) that can be fully read fairly quickly.

If you’re looking for something to make you feel warm and fuzzy, this isn’t the book for you. But if you’re interested in the truth, I highly recommend it.

The book of Malachi is structured around six accusations that God makes against his wayward, disobedient people. Yet each time God details a charge against them, the obstinate people have no idea what their ‘wearisome’ God is talking about.

Maybe it was their confirmation bias that caused them to call evil ‘good’, and good ‘evil,’ or maybe, like me, they were blissfully ignorant of how bad things could get as a result of their sin, since at the time life was pretty pleasant (Mal. 2:17).

Finally, God sent a warning through his messenger, Malachi: I’ll be coming down with justice, ready or not (Mal. 3:1).

The book of Malachi, and with it the entire Old Testament, end with an ominous note of hope: hearts will be turned, or God “will come and strike the land with total destruction (Mal. 4:6).” Just like that, the stage is set for the coming Savior, who’s introduced on the very next page in Matthew 1.

The truth isn’t subject to our biases, nor does it cease to be due to our ignorance. God is coming in judgment, probably before the Vikings return to the Super Bowl. Malachi reminds you of the choice you have in light of this truth: trust in his grace, or pay the price.

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Rev. Chad Werkhoven is pastor of Worthington Christian Reformed Church. Join them in reading Malachi this week, and dig deeper at wgtncrc.org/bible.

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