Scripture: Ephesians 3:1-12
I have been sick for nearly a week. I hate being sick because when I am sick I miss out on life around me. I could not go to watch the Hobbit with my wife and son, because I was at home sick. To be restricted from something is not all that fun.
Or is it? In today’s passage I was struck by Paul’s excitment for being a prisioner. He is excited to be restricted from life. Does this strike you as odd? We can take a logical approach that he was excited because he was imprisioned do to his strongly held beliefs, and the excitment comes from firmly standing on his principles. Which is a good approach. I think it is even a correct answer. He is excited to be sitting in prision because of the mysteries of Christ.
There is an excitment that builds when you pursue the right cause even if the culture around you finds it wrong. In the past few years I have become more entrenched in the core values held by the Society of Friends: the values of simplicity, peace, integrety, community, and equality. I have latched on to these values because I see them as being right something worth holding onto. I believe that it is right to promote a life lived in simplicity so that I can free more of the tools God has given me to serve Him in His kingdom. I have come to realize that even though my nation is at war, the promotion of life and peaceful means of resolving conflict is important. Not because I think that all war will end right away but because I firmly believe that there is a way to make peace without killing innocent life. As I listen to and watch news programs I realize that honesty and integrety has lost value in our culture, as I see people from all sides crying about the other while both are participating in the same actions. I drive along the streets and see buildings being torn to pieces by people just haveing a good time, and the community just sitting back expecting someone else to do something about it. And in that same breath blaming others for their problems.
Simplicity, Peace, Integrety, Community, and Equality. They are ideas true, but they are the ideals that I am called to pursue. These are the ideals that I find sum up the essences of what the Kingdom of God is all about. They are the spice of life, the salt of the earth. Even in a world that seems so empty of theses values I have a desire, a longing, a passion really to do everything I can to bring it about. It is a mystery. I cannot explain why I have this desire, but just as mysteriously I do not want to force my values onto anyone else.
There is a liberty in this restriction! That is why Paul I excited to be in the chains for his God. He has tasted the spice of life, life in he most pure sense and he willingly does what ever he can to share that with others. Paul did everything to pursue this life and to share this life. He did not force anyone to submit to his vision. He was actually beaten and imprisioned because others opposed his views and still he was excited.
As I pray, and as I recover from illness I wonder if I have ever really had that type of passion? Would I truly totally pursue the values that I have grown to love to such a degree that I would be willing to lose everything for them, even my freedom? Am I so sure that the mystery in God that I have found is so much stronger than ay other aspect of life that I can freely give myself and everything around me over to Him mknowing that He will take care of me? Would I willingly stand before murderous humans and willingly share what I have found to be most meaingful to me?
Deep questions…questions that I would venture each of us would answer similarly at first. I want to say yes I am willing, but then I must ask what have I done to bring the spice of life to the world around me? How many resources did I invest in improving my community, or how have I actually tried to promote peace in a war torn world? You see we are not prisioners of Christ, but we are all really bound by the world. We have passions but those passions are not bound in the mysteries of God but in the strength of mankind.
Well I’m tired of being sick, and I’m tired of not being excited by the mysteries of God. So what am I going to do? Well that is where the life of prayer comes in. I cannot do anything alone. Paul says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” If I say that I believe that then maybe I should start living it. I will pray using the scripures, letting the words whirl around in my head, and let the Spirit of God direct them into the very center of my heart. And out of the quiet place of prayer, I will then ask for the strength to change.
We have passions, but let our passions be directed by God. We have desires, let our desires be full of God. We have hope because God have provided that hope to us. Let us be willing to lose it all for the mystery that is Christ.