Man Oh Man, It’s Time For The New One

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;  bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

— Colossians 3:12-17

This passage really could not have come at a better time. The preparation week of Lent is coming to an end, and fully-fledged Lent is upon us. It is now the time to put our proverbial money where our mouths are and make a real change in how we are living our lives. I decided to take this passage and break it down, virtue by virtue and self-reflect, and I would encourage you to do the same. Here we go:

  • Tender mercies: not just mercy, but tender mercy; that’s a whole other level of mercy. Have I been merciful to those around me? Or do I get frustrated with others, refusing to let go of their faults and refusing to give the benefit of the doubt?
  • Kindness: do I show kindness to others around me? And when I do where is it coming from? Is it coming from the little that I have or does it stem from the kindness that I am receiving from God?
  • Humility: this is a biggie. What am I focusing my life around? Is it all about me or is it about those around me? Am I doing or saying things to keep attention focused on me? What are the intentions behind my actions and words?
  • Meekness: I don’t think we always know what being meek means, but it goes along with the theme of the rest of this passage. Am I gentle with those around me? Am I soft and calm? Or am I boisterous and loud and saying whatever pops in my head without regard for the consequences?
  • Longsuffering: Am I patient with the people in my life? How about with God? Do I allow Him time to work in my life or do I decide to take matters in my own hands? Do I live my life in the “my way or the highway” mentality or do I leave room for God to do His work on His time?
  • Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another: similar to the attributes above, how am I dealing with people I interact with? Do I forgive or do I insist on holding onto grudges and what I think is owed to me? Do I bear with those who feel like a thorn in my side?

I will be honest with those of you out there reading this, I have not been the best at basically any of these things lately. I haven’t been putting on love like Paul calls for us to do.

But that’s the beauty of this season! It’s another opportunity for a fresh start, to put on love, to be ruled by the peace of God, to be filled with the word of God.

Instead of being ruled by our passions and pride and selfishness and insecurities, let’s choose to be ruled by the peace of God.

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Laying Down My Gun

The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

Now it shall come to pass in the latter days
That the mountain of the Lord’s house
Shall be established on the top of the mountains,
And shall be exalted above the hills;
And all nations shall flow to it.
Many people shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
And rebuke many people;
They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war anymore.

I feel like I’m always in fight mode. I’m ready to attack, to get my own, ready to war for what I believe is owed me. I want what I believe is rightfully mine, and I’ll do what I think it takes to get it. My sword is always at the ready when I feel I am wronged.anger1

How much anger did I hold onto for months? How ready was I to attack if I ever saw the faces of they who wronged me? I allowed myself to succumb to my anger, and everything I thought or did stemmed from that anger for a while. And isn’t it always like this? Don’t I always find myself blaming and accusing others for the hurt and the loss?

But here. Here in these verses, I read of something greater than my anger and my sword. I read of forgiveness and of peace.

The forgiveness in these verses is twofold. The first is God’s willingness to forgive the people, His willingness to take them back after every betrayal and teach them His ways. The second is the forgiveness of the people towards one another by walking in His path and laying down their weapons.

When I hold onto grace and mercy and forgiveness instead of anger, I forget war. I will not “learn war anymore”. And isn’t that a better way to live? Filled with peace rather than wrath? Have I not found that since choosing to forgive I have felt more peace than any day in the preceding months?

Stop holding onto your anger. Stop your self-pity and blaming. Start turning your weapons into tools for edification. Instead of warring and tearing down, forgive and build and grow.

Just as Christ has forgiven you for your betrayals, forgive others theirs.

You are worth more than what the anger makes you. And you deserve to be happy without memories of anger to mar it.

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” -Colossians 3:15

I Am Confident I Am His

A journal entry while in St. Bishoy Monastery, Egypt

And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. -1 John 2:28

There was a monk who once said, “Be a friend of God on earth, and you will be a friend of God in heaven.” You can see that here. Everything is about Him. Every word speaks of Him. Every knee bows down to Him. Literally. It was a really beautiful thing to witness in liturgy today. After the reading of the Gospel, EVERY person in the church did a metanoia (prostration), asking for forgiveness of his sins. Every single knee hit the ground, acknowledging our weakness and the greatness of God, acknowledging the we are nothing next to the pure glory of God.

But none of this acknowledgment is in a negative way, an utterly shameful way. We are, of course, ashamed of our sins, but because we know God, because we abide in His body, partake of His blood, we no longer HAVE to be ashamed. We bow down, we ask for God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of others, yet we no longer bear shame because we are clothed by the love and blood of Christ since we abide in Him.

He came and suffered so that I would not have to be ashamed any longer. He purposed all so that I may belong to Him, abide in Him, live for Him and through Him. How, then, can I bear shame when I bear Christ within me?

This is His purpose. This is His aim. He wants me to come to Him as a confident child to her father, not with shame as a dishonored servant.

St. John says in his first epistle: Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! (3:1).  He is the first One to call us His children. He taught us to speak to Him as our Father. It is not I who who come to Him requesting such an honor, but He who says, “You are my daughter”.

I am His daughter, and for some crazy reason, He decides to love me, and to make me confident in Him. He wants that relationship from now, so that when eternity comes along, I’ll greet Him as an old friend.

It’s time to live life in Him.