Scripture: Ephesians 4:1-16
We live in a time that is actually quite scarey. The nation I live in (the USA) is being divided over a company that serves chicken sandwiches, when the rest of the world is watching their athletes compete in London. The issue has nothing to do with what this company serves but what charities they support. I am very concerned not because of the issue but because of the way in people are responding to each other. I am concerned so I pray.
For me prayer is more than just lifting our concerns to God, although our petitions are a very real part of prayer. Prayer is building a relationship with God. In my life I have been taught several things about prayer, but the greatest and most benifitial to me is interacting with scripture while I pray.
Today I meditate on a writing from Paul. Paul is often seen as the Apostle of division, which is sad because his writtings are filled with much grace and love. In this passage we are encouraged to lead a life worthy of our call, first. Have you considered what that life would look like? If I am calling myself a disciple or follower of Jesus what sort of life should I be living in my world today? Just as I write that question my mind instantly spins with half going to either side. I should stand firm on the values taught according to scripture on one side, and being loving, gracious, and accepting of all on the other. Wait!
Even within the scripture we are found divided, what should we do? Jesus did love the sinners and he did dispise sin, how was He able to handle this crazy discord of faith? He did so by relationships. He called people to follow Him. As they walked from place to place He taught and He lived out his teaching. If we were to really look deeply into His actions, He rarely got angry and when He did the anger was directed not at the people living in sin, but to the ones that claimed to be rightious. Why did he do this?
Paul continues to say, “with humility, gentleness, and patience bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” How are we doing here? I myself am getting irritated, I have called everyone hypocrites on social media, I did so with I believe rightious anger, but what did I accomplish? It is very difficult to bear one another in love. It is even harder to bear one another in love if we do not agree with one another on an issue. As I pray and meditate today I realize that this is what everything is about. It is not about who is right it is about how we love. How we speak, encourage, respond, and act toward those that oppose our values are very important.
I am sure many of those that know me are probably getting nervous and may think I am speaking out of both sides of my mouth, but I am not. I believe strongly that there are activities that will be seperate us from God, scripture is filled with these things which are know t us as sin. Sinfulness is missing the mark, or falling short of the standard. The question is what is the standard? Many may say that this is a crazy question the standard is set for us in scripture, my answer though is not the ten comandments. Those are not the total story. Our standard is Jesus Christ. If we do not live a life equal to Jesus we miss the mark. He lived and fulfilled the entire law, sinless. Yet he took on sin for us so that in Him we can stand before God clothed not in our own rightiousness but in Christ.
This is the most important issue. This is the ultimate goal, our job as followers of Christ is to teach each other to reflect Christ’s life more. To do this we should invest time teaching and encouraging people so they better understand the ways of Jesus. Along with that we should also forgive and be gracious toward those around us when their lifestyles fail to reflect the lifestyle Christ would have us live. There is no judgement in this, how could we judge others when we ourselves are also in need of grace, we ourselves fall short and sin. Our hope is not in ourselves but in the one who took on humanity and lived the perfect human life for us.
If we were to focus on Christ and reflect His ways in our interpersonal relationships we will stand firm, we will not be blown around by politics or doctrines, because Christ does not change. He stands firm for us all. Today I encourage you all to imagine Paul sitting beside you, speaking these words directly to you. Deeply reflect on the words spoke to you. Let the words illuminate your life and your lifestyle, and let us bear one another in love.