If you want to live as a person fully alive, don’t focus on your failings as a Christian. And, whatever you do, don’t put on a fake happy face, pretending as if everything in your life is just fine. Guilt and inauthenticity won’t cut when it comes to showing the world the gracious wisdom of God. Rather, lean in to God’s grace, letting his grace transform you and inspire you. The more you are captivated by what God has done for you in Christ, the more you will be motivated to live a transformed life.
I realize that unity is not easily forged or maintained in our congregations. I also realize that immoral behavior and wrong belief can damage the unity of God’s people. So I don’t mean to sound naïve when suggesting that we should seek Christ-centered unity as the people of God. I know how hard this can be in practice. But the theology of Ephesians inspires us to seek unity in the church, even if this is a difficult challenge, and even if we’ll never get it perfectly right.
The sky was cloudless and blue, just like the sky on September 11, 2001, when two airplanes crashed into the two towers and thousands of lives were lost… Together, my husband and I stood at the edge of one of the pools of water that fall away forever, each pool surrounded by the names of those who lost their lives that day. Not far from one of the pools is the Survivor Tree. It’s a small tree that endured the destruction around it and was found, alive, in the midst of the rubble.
We had the windows down, the sunroof open, and the radio off. Out of the silence, my niece asked this question: “What do you think happens when we die?” I admit to being caught off guard. I gathered my thoughts and rambled on and on for a few miles about existential possibilities, philosophical abstracts, and unproven theories about the afterlife… Glancing at my niece, in the midst of my rambling, I was convinced I’d complicated things with all my words… “Good grief!” I thought. “I broke my niece!”
Psalm 119 pulls out all the stops in celebrating God’s truth. His Word not only guides our steps and keeps us from getting off course, but also, in a phrase, it gives us life. Why do we read, study, reflect upon, and pray the Scriptures? Because in them we find life, life with meaning and purpose, life with depth and truth, life both now and forever. The Word of God guides us so that we might live life to the fullest.
The more we recognize the centrality of the church in God’s plan, the more we will look differently at our lives and our participation in the church. We will understand that God has saved us not only for relationship with him but also for relationship with his people. In community with God and his people, we, the church of Jesus Christ, are to show the world—and, indeed, the entire cosmos—that God’s plan for restoring all things is working.
God’s grand plan for the universe, God’s mystery, God’s manifold wisdom, will be revealed to the whole cosmos, including supernatural powers, through the church. Through the church! Now that’s an unexpected twist in God’s mystery, if you ask me. I don’t find it intuitive to think of the church as playing such a central role in God’s plan for the cosmos. Yet, according to Ephesians 3:10, the church is right in the core of God’s redeeming, restoring, unifying work.
God has a finely-tuned sense of timing. He does not reveal everything to us all at once. But, like an expert mystery writer, he discloses in just the right time that which ought to be made known. Sometimes God’s timing can feel frustrating to us. But God is the master storyteller who avoids spoilers, unlike my friend John. God wants to engage us, to draw us into his story, not just as listeners or observers, but also as key characters in the narrative.
Based on the research of Forbes, Bezos is worth $112 billion, compared to the measly $90 billion of Gates. I find it hard to comprehend such riches. I wonder sometimes what I would do if I had that much money. But, this I know for sure, I don’t. Though I am blessed to live quite comfortably, I don’t think I’ll make the Forbes billionaire list anytime soon. But I am personally connected to the greatest wealth of all. And so are you, if you’re a follower of Christ.
“How many times should we forgive?” Many of us can identify with the question Peter poses to Jesus. It’s humorous to think that Peter might have been trying to figure out the cap at which he maxes out of forgiveness to give each person. However, it would seem that behind his question, and ours, is a fear of people taking advantage of our forgiveness. I can almost hear and resonate with Peter’s heart in trying to assess when enough is enough.