My salvation is an issue between me and my Maker and your salvation is an issue between you and Yours.
My job, as one seeking to live a Christian life, is to be a good advertisement for the way to God demonstrated in the life of Christ.
For me, that’s an in-body experience.
If we don’t take to our knees, we will be forced to our knees. Sooner or later.
The greatest testimony of all, beyond the life of our Lord, is our own life as we live it.
- We can castigate bullies, but if we are one, that means nothing.
- We can warn against the dangers of texting and driving, but if we do it, it means nothing.
- We can champion self-respect, but if we have none, it means nothing.
- We can caution against failing to set healthy boundaries, but it we fail to, it means nothing.
We, the wise, older set, who have lived life and have something to say, are resounding gongs and clanging symbols in the lives of those we love if we say one thing and do another. We become noise-makers, adding additional volume but no more meaning.
This, I believe, is why the biblical Paul so passionately begins his plea to the people of Corinth this way:
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
This precedes the beautiful “love chapter” of the Bible often read at weddings. Of the love that is patient and kind and doesn’t envy or boast. The love that’s not self-seeking, isn’t prideful or easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs. That perfect love which never fails.
That’s the love we can never quite live up to but which sets an example to reach for in our lives with another, and with all others, including ourselves.
First, we have to let that love come alive and be real in us, before we try to pawn it off on someone else. Otherwise, our hypocrisy is telling, and they will probably waste no time telling us! When we say one thing, but do another, it’s our unloving that’s showing.
We have to start with love, both for ourselves and the other – not an easy task. It requires perspective beyond ourselves to set a right course for our intentions and priorities. When we invite an honest look at the lives we are leading, we can align our thoughts, words and actions with the love God intends.
When we start with love, what we say and do makes a whole lot more sense.
Twas the day after Christmas and all through the land the kids were glad to sleep in and the parents to sip their morning coffee and peruse the headlines.
I’m always a bit melancholy on the day after Christmas. And that’s the way with anticipation fulfilled, right? Once you have it, what do you do with it?
I wrote one lone line in my journal:
Was Christ’s incarnation really incarceration?
I mean, how must it feel to leave the glory of heaven for a confinement like earth? Even if you’re Lord of the universe? Then I read the inward-outward that came in my inbox. It began: “The incarnation is the irruption of God into human history.”
Now in my surly frame of mind I thought Irruption! don’t they know how to spell eruption? So, my friend Wikipedia set me straight. “irruption” means breaking in. “eruption” means breaking out.
It was not a misspelling. It was an epiphany. Christ did not break out; He broke in. It was not a spilling or a vomiting or a tossing away from heaven. It was a premeditated, loving, swan (or dove) dive into earthen time. Into human time. For all time.
Well, now that Wikipedia and I were getting cozy I asked about “carnation.” What was it that Christ came “in” to? It turns out the carnation is:
“a species of Dianthus (from the Greek for heavenly flower) probably native to the Mediterranean region, but its exact range is unknown due to extensive cultivation for the last 2,000 years.”
Imagine that. A heavenly flower birthed into time somewhere in the Mediterranean region, but so spread in 2000 years it’s hard to trace its origin. Hmm. Even my day after Christmas self had to pause at that. And, as the time for my Advent candle devotions had been fulfilled, I stood to blow out
Wouldn’t you know that the candle of hope had already gone out? It couldn’t have lasted one more day. Really?
Well, no. Advent had not snuffed out hope but Christmas had happened. The in-Carnation had happened. Hope entered time as peace, joy and love.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~ Romans 15:13
Twas the day after Christmas and God said, “You take it from here.”