Tag Archives: Colossians

Afterword

With the election drawing to a close this week with heightened emotion and intensity for many, we now find ourselves pondering what the future holds from here.  It has oft been observed that this election in particular has been especially polarizing and, in affirmation of this, it has also weighed heavily upon many of our hearts and minds for some time now.  However, as the dust begins to settle, our attention must turn to the matter of how we are going to proceed.  For, though the presidential election is one of the most important events in the United States, which greatly affects and shapes the future course of the nation, it does not negate the numerous other moving parts of our lives.

As Christians, we must not lose sight of the fact that even something as big as the presidential election is ultimately a piece in the bigger picture.  It is a piece that we, as part of the stewardship given to us in our lives, are required to speak to through casting our vote.  Nonetheless, after the election is done, the votes tallied, and speeches made, there will still be evils such as hunger, poverty, corruption, and injustice in our world just as there were before.  Our Adversary, the devil, will still be tirelessly pursuing our spiritual ruin and the spiritual ruin of all humanity.

For these reasons, as we return our focus to our more routine cycles, it is paramount that we remain mindful of the eternal aspects of our temporal lives.  The words of Paul to the church in Colosse are poignant to us following the election:

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 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

Paul’s words provide a gut-check that makes us look at who we are called to be as Christians.  It seems that this last campaign, perhaps more so than those previous, has tended to incline our hearts to hate and wish ill for others depending on who they did or didn’t support.  However, our devotion and obedience to Christ demands that we put off such wickedness and instead give grace and love just as we have received grace and love from Christ.  We are called to support and look out for one another for the greater glory of God, rather than give in to bitterness and hysteria.  This is an admittedly difficult task, given that our political views may not have won the election and that we are faced with sentiments all too eager to stir us to anger and fear whenever we do things like turn on the TV or log on to Facebook.  Sometimes we must take a deep breath and clear our minds of the clutter that so easily accumulates in it and distorts our perceptions.  We must not let fear or resentment govern our lives, for then we and we alone have robbed ourselves of faith, hope, and love.

Life goes on after this election, and so does our goal of living our lives with and for God.  As we move forward in our lives, we must keep our hearts and minds set on what is truly important and not lose sight of the God who loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son so that, while we were still enemies to Him, we might be reconciled to Him.  Let us then, in keeping with His love, continue, as ever, to aim at and uphold the heart and spirit expressed in the greatest commandments:

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind,’ this is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

-Matthew 22:37-40

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Being Alone With God – Being

“Being” means that you have to be with God.  “Being” is a somewhat foreign concept as we are so well-practiced in the art of being in one place while our minds are focused elsewhere such as what task we have to do next or whether we’ll be late to an appointment.  Being with God gathers our attention together and places it on God.  The story of Mary and Martha provides an illustration of what it means to be with God.

“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.  But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Therefore tell her to help me.’  And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

-Luke 10:38-42

The problem is not that Martha was working, but that she was letting that work distract her from Jesus.  As a matter of fact, we spend most of our time as a “Merry Martha”, going about our daily business with our gaze fixed upon Christ (Colossians 3:23).  However, during wilderness time we seek a primarily Mary-state-of-mind, quietly and intently attending to God.  The question that naturally follows this is “What do I do to imitate Mary?”  The answer is to do what Mary did:  to “sit at Jesus’ feet and hear His word.”  In other words, following Mary’s example does not consist so much in doing as much as in being.

We typically strive for a balance between Martha and Mary because both are needed.  Faith, after all, is a fusion of belief and action.  In the story, Martha’s problem arose when she let her busyness come between her and Jesus whereas Mary made it her business to hear Jesus.  The difference being that Martha’s actions made her deaf to Jesus while Mary’s actions allowed her to hear Him.  When we approach wilderness time, it is tempting to focus on what we are doing and, like Martha, miss what God is doing.  This is where our intentional submission to God helps us.  Is our intention to form ourselves for God or to be formed by God?

In many ways, taking the time to be with God helps us to realign our priorities.  We carve out a block of time for God and then we don’t allow other things that normally distract us from Him to interfere.  Setting aside this time and going without the activities we typically occupy ourselves with gives us a more tangible way of setting God at the top of our list of priorities.  It also gives us the chance to make our other desires and concerns play second fiddle to our desire for God.  This may be the most difficult part of being with God.  It is one thing to put God on equal footing with our other priorities, but it is something completely different to make them secondary to God so that He alone is our top priority.

Being with God is difficult and requires time and practice because it requires that we set aside things that not comfortable setting aside.  However, in so doing we open ourselves up to receive from God.

Practical Questions:

1)      What competes with God for the top spot in my life?

2)      Am I content simply being with God at times?  Why or why not?

3)      What specific steps can I take to follow Mary’s example in my wilderness time?


A Spiritual Life

When we think of our spiritual lives, our thoughts often converge on weekly worship services and Bible studies.  This is fitting, as these are often the highlights when we gather as the people of God to hear His word and worship Him.  However, can we take two days out of the week and call them a life?  What about the time in-between those days?  Let’s suppose that we have some time set aside each day for reading Scripture and praying and we add that time to the two days we’ve already carved out, is that enough time for us to say that we have a spiritual life?

If we examine how we live our lives, we see that minutes and seconds actually have very little to do with the act of living.  Life is something that we do every minute of every day as long as our heart is beating.  It is an all-encompassing phenomenon and nothing we do lies beyond its scope.  Our spiritual life, the life involving our soul and relationship with God, is no different.  As a matter of fact, when take into account Scripture such as Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” and Colossians 3:23, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” we find that our lives and our spiritual lives are one and the same.  There is no distinction between the two except the fake one we make with terms like “spiritual life”.  Our relationship with God does not start when we open up the Bible and stop when we close it.  What we do while driving home from work has just as much impact on our soul as what we do Sunday morning.

To live with God does not consist in a set number of hours doing certain actions as if we were trying to obtain a driver’s license.  God does not work on the clock; He works around the clock, shaping us into a unique likeness of Christ.  Likewise, our attending to and cooperating with His work cannot be on the clock.  Instead of being brackets to our relationship with God, things like prayer and worship are focused times with God that help us to be more attentive to God’s work in our lives the rest of the time.