Living “a life worthy of the calling” is often understood in terms of personal piety reflected in a disciplined life especially as it relates to resisting behaviors identified as the ways of the world. But the apostle Paul defines a “life worthy of the calling” in ways that relate to living in relationship with others. Living in “humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” cannot be accomplished unless one bears with those whose life is less than one’s own “holier than thou” or on the flip side bearing with those whose life is “holier” than you are or perhaps care to be. The point is patience is not necessary when others are as you are and there is no need for humility or gentleness or making any effort at all when the bond of peace does not require negotiation. But then we tend to “speak the truth in love” loudly without first quietly growing up in every way into Christ so the truth spoken has little to do with love and everything to do with pride or prejudice or one’s own particular point of view. But when “each part is working properly” those who are patient assist those who require patience (and vice versa) to grow and in doing so all are built up in love. Easier said than done and that is why one must make “every effort.”
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Not satisfied with water from the rock the children of Israel wondered aloud about the ability of God to provide meat and make bread. (78:20) God was furious (78:21) and yet responded to the people’s complaint with quail and manna. They ate and were filled for God gave them what they craved. Of course at the time what they craved was anything that would satisfy their hunger. It would not be long before they tired of quail and complained about the detestable manna. I remember a night at our ministry to the homeless - Room in the Inn - where one of our guests offered a prayer before dinner and gave thanks for the goodness of the Lord with whom all things are possible and without whom nothing can be accomplished. It was a profound and yet simple prayer of faith and thanksgiving for the everyday miracle of God with us and the warmth of friendship. Our guests continually tell us how much they appreciate Calvary and that our Room in the Inn has serious street cred. I don’t think it’s the food or the accommodations as good as they are. I think it’s the hospitality and the genuine love expressed through smiles and conversations and generosity of spirit. When it comes right down to it that is what we crave and that is what God provides whenever God’s heart is expressed through human hands.
Monday, July 27, 2015
Those who complain in the wilderness, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt” forget the family members who never made it out of Egypt alive and that the Egyptians didn’t need the Lord’s hand to help kill them. But then we tend to reconstruct the difficult days of the past in the light of present troubles thinking that what was was not as bad as what is even though what is and what was are often the same thing. Dying at the hands of the Egyptians or of starvation in the wilderness is still dead. It is to God’s credit that this constant complaining does not lead God to “walk like an Egyptian” (The Bangles) and be done with the whole assembly. It is a preview of God’s struggle with a people whose “love is like the morning mist.” (Hosea 6:4) The God who provides manna and quail to ungrateful people will continue to give them bread to eat, even if it is the bread of tears, in the hope that they will recognize that freedom in the wilderness is better than slavery in Egypt. God’s hope for us is that in following the way of the Lord we would prefer to live in radical freedom, no matter how difficult it is, than to dwell in the comfortable prisons of our own design.
Thursday, July 23, 2015
The feeding of the five thousand is found in every Gospel which means it was a big deal to the early church. My guess is it was the Galilean Woodstock of sorts (without the music and drugs) so that it occupied the popular imagination and even those who were nowhere near the mountain that day wished they were until the five thousand magically multiplied and everyone claimed to have been there for a bite of fish and a morsel of bread. Well, maybe not, but it really was a big deal. In fact those who actually were there ran around the lake to meet Jesus (who walked across) thinking that the one who provided supper might also make them breakfast. (John 6:26) Of course we do the same thing when with limited vision we value temporal needs over eternal truths. Not that God is disinterested in our everyday. But the miracle of the story is that God takes what is and multiplies it into what can be. We are tempted to tell the crowd to go away which devalues both our own resources and the multiplying effect of faith. But the story of the first century Galilean Woodstock is that what appeared to be too little was more than enough.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
If we are able to comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth of God’s love for us in Christ Jesus we have a clue as to what God can accomplish beyond the limitations of our imagination. Far too often we turn this all surpassing power into a temporal wish list thinking that what we ask is what God will provide. I think the clue to what God is about is in the “far more abundantly” clause of the contract rooted and grounded in love. Our vision is limited at best and more often than not myopically distorted so that what we want, need, or desire has little to do with the love that surpasses knowledge. But if we take our cues from Christ we might begin to understand that what God intends to accomplish is for us to act “far more abundantly” than we otherwise would so that every family in heaven and earth might experience the benefits of God’s grace.