“So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you…Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tender-hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”
– Colossians 3:5a, 12-17 (NLT)
Everywhere we go there are signs. Pull up to the drive-thru at your local fast food restaurant and there are signs that direct you to lanes and signs that direct you through the menu. Drive down the road and there are signs that tell you what where you are at and where you are going. On I-435 HWY there are even markers every two-tenths of a mile so if you break down, you can look at the sign and tell an emergency worker or road side assistance exactly where you are.
Culturally there are signs around us – indicators of where we stand regarding things like politics, morals, values, and social issues. For some, the signs indicate that we are basically a flawed society and that only an elite few know the way to organize and engineer us into the best that we can be. Others look at the signs and say yes, we have our faults but the better majority of us are by nature good and we need to do an even better job of accentuating the positive. Maybe because I am a pastor and teacher I look at this from a third view. My leaning is toward the coming day when divine intervention in this world will transform everything because we simply can’t do it ourselves.
If that is the case do we just give up?
Do we just put down the tools and stop working for change?
Do we stop striving to be something better than we were the day before?
I don’t think so. Paul had a vision for Christ-centered community that seems foreign and nearly impossible.
tender-hearted mercy. Kindness. Gentleness. Patience. Making room for other’s faults and going “on offense” with forgiveness. Everything we do and say, we do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus. He saw these as signs of our divine transformation.
Moment of self-disclosure – I am at times a miserable failure and at other times a hopefilled work in progress.
How about you?
I read a blog post from Jon Acuff, author of “Stuff Christians Like” that was right on target. Take a moment and go over to his entry at www.jonacuff.com and under Stuff Christians Like look at entry #1319 titled “Why are Christians such jerks?”
Here is what I long for as a pastor, teacher and fellow member of a local body of Christ – I long for a group of people who respond in the manner Paul laid out for the church at Colossae. Why? Because it is just as relevant today as it was nearly 2,000 years ago…maybe even more so. And honestly I would rather hang out with people who are aspiring to do life together – life that is loving, forgiving, filled with patience, making room for my mistakes, and giving thanks to God.
So this is what I am thinking – the next time someone rubs me the wrong way I have a choice:
a) Be a Christian jerk about it because I am Mr. Super-Spiritual Pastor Guy! (written with tongue in cheek!)
b) Clothe myself with Christ and respond with tender-hearted mercy, love, patience, forbearance, and forgiveness.
1) Which pastor would you prefer?
2) When you next face this situation yourself, how will you respond?
“Let everything we say and do be a representation of the Lord Jesus, and may we give thanks through him to God the Father.”
Blessings for the journey.