I worry about others: the abuse of power, the inconsistency of character, the dismissal of truth or grace. As a brother constantly reminds me, I have control of two things: my “actions and reactions.” I cannot make the choices of other people. I can speak the truth in love and grace – and often fail to meet one of those or the other. But, I continue in my faith daily. Seeking those who speak truth and grace into my life, receiving rebuke and encouragement, and releasing that which I cannot control. I often weep for our culture and our church, for the way the Gospel has been twisted and manipulated by those who seek only to fulfill themselves or control the masses, for those who have been pushed away from God or outright walked away from Him. But I do not lose hope. The redemption in Jesus Christ, the hope and reality of reconciliation by the power of His Holy Spirit, remains too great a truth.
We live in a world of soundbites. If you’ve made it this far, and you’ve had similar feelings to my own, I encourage you to read Romans 12 below. God is good. God is near. Practice just one of the statements below this week – not for some kind of eventual reward, but to see His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. If you follow Jesus, you are a citizen in the Kingdom of God, an ambassador and mouthpiece of His on earth. As much as you are able, be at peace. The Kingdom of God is near.
“Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many parts in one body and all the body’s parts do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually parts of one another. However, since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to use them properly: if prophecy, in proportion to one’s faith; if service, in the act of serving; or the one who teaches, in the act of teaching; or the one who exhorts, in the work of exhortation; the one who gives, with generosity; the one who is in leadership, with diligence; the one who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Love must be free of hypocrisy. Detest what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor, not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never repay evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all people. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written: “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12
Hempfield Church of the Brethren