Thursday’s Blog - "There Is No Law Against Being Nice"
Another Word from Pastor Ken
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I may sound like a broken record, as I seem to say the same things over and over. One of my mentors told me years ago that we only have one or two things to say in life, and when we share, we always talk about those one or two things. I thought he was wrong, to be honest. But I have discovered in these years that he may be right. I only have two or three things to say, and no matter what I talk about, it focuses on those two or three things. Today’s musings may indeed be one of them.
I have been carefully monitoring the news these last few weeks regarding the nature of our collective experiences. These experiences would include the pandemic issues of Covid-19, the racial tensions and protests, and the political temperature that is heating up as we move closer to a November decision. Some of you have noticed it as well, and some have avoided it. Yet, some are right in the middle of it, as if they alone were carrying on the fight for what is right.
Admittedly, my experience is limited to a small section of Pennsylvania. My only other exposure comes from various news outlets and conversations online. The prophetic side of my reflections, however, disturbs me. What I sense are huge divisions, or maybe chasms would be a better description. Disappointment is rampant, frustration is evident, and anger is prevalent. And we take sides debasing the side we think is wrong. Our temptation is to point out the error of other's thinking and behavior while harboring personal feelings of "rightness."
We tout our vision as being a people called to be an expression of God's love, grace, and mercy. Yet, we tend to act out of our humanness, instead of allowing Christ to live His life through us. The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the congregation in Corinth, “Now I encourage you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Agree with each other and don’t be divided into rival groups. Instead, be restored with the same mind and the same purpose” (CEB).
You might be wondering if Paul is suggesting that we all need to think and believe the same. Not at all is my response. God has created us all of us to be different. We will never see everything the same way. That is okay, and in fact, that is the beauty of God's creation. Instead, Paul is suggesting that we have the same mind, which is to focus on Jesus Christ and His purpose for us and His kingdom. What was happening in the congregation of Corinth were divisions based on personalities and selfish preferences. Paul later wrote in Galatians that they needed to be guided by the Spirit so that they would not be carried away by selfish desires. Then, he added, “If we live by the Spirit, let’s follow the Spirit. Let’s not become arrogant, make each other angry, or be jealous of each other” (Galatians 5:25-26, CEB).
Dr. Dan Boone, President of Trevecca Nazarene University, wrote in his reflective article this week, “My concern for today is that the current octane of anger will not achieve the kind of just, reconciled, merciful society that the kingdom of God imagines.” I strongly suggest that our purpose is to live out the kingdom of God. And just maybe this was what the Apostle Paul indicated when he wrote these words: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the self with its passions and its desires” (Galatians 5:22-24, CEB). Paul also writes in Romans 14:19, “So let’s strive for the things that bring peace and the things that build each other up” (CEB).
So, I close with these thoughts:
1. Remember, we are all one in Jesus Christ.
2. May we be known by our hope in Jesus Christ, and not by our opinions.
3. “Our task is not to protest the world into a certain moral conformity, but to attract the world to the saving beauty of Christ” (Brian Zahnd).
4. “Every human interaction offers you the chance to make things better or to make things worse” (Barbara Brown Taylor), and I add, that this includes Facebook and other social media.
And finally, but NOT least, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in faith so that you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13, CEB).