Posted by: ritagone | March 5, 2014

Mixed Messages




It’s so easy to talk about certain aspects of the Christian life and make them sound as if we have them all figured out, as if we do them – whatever they are – with regularity and ease.

Like loving our neighbors when we quite possibly do not even know our neighbor’s name.

Like extending grace to someone when all we really know how to do comfortably is judge and berate them.

Like being so critical of everything around us that we have pushed away every element of gentleness and peace that Jesus embraced and told us to embrace as His followers.

If you were writing a letter to people you cared about, and if you thought this might be the last communication you would have with them, what would you say to them?  What would be the most important message to leave them with?

The apostle Paul finishes his letter to the Corinthians with an admonition to give money to the Lord’s work (always a much needed reminder) and then two verses that are short and yet filled with commands to them…and therefore to us.  We would do well to heed what he had to say, even some 2,000 years later:

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men (and women) of courage; be strong.  Do everything in love.”

Wow!  He really packed it in here, didn’t he?

Be on your guard.  Against what, Paul?  Well, I guess against everything and anything that threatens our walk with Jesus.  All the double-mindedness, all the mixed messages, all the “stuff” that comes at us and undermines the integrity of who we are and what we are about.  Be on your guard about it all. How on your guard are you, reader?  Am I?  Sometimes I think I’ve put down my guard and walked away from whatever it is I’m supposed to be guarding.  AWOL.  Shame on me.

Stand firm in the faith.  We live in a time when it’s much easier to walk away from the faith than it is to stand firm.  Standing firm means being ridiculed, at the very least.  In some places around the world, it means imprisonment and loss of life.  We’re not there yet in the U.S., but could it be lurking around the corner?  Perhaps.  How firm will you and I be found standing when it’s no longer ridicule we’re facing but gunfire?  I wonder this about myself; how about you?

Be men (or women) of courage.  Instead of taking the easy way out, I want to be a woman who does what is right, no matter how difficult.  That takes courage.  I want to be courageous even though my knees are knocking.

Be strong.  I am not strong.  I’ve often thought that if torture were involved, I would be one of those who would quickly deny the Lord.  I try to convince myself otherwise, but I know me.  And yet I pray that God would build into me every day going forward the strength needed to stand up and face whatever the enemy hurls at me.  I want to be strong.  I really do.

Do everything in love.  Wow, this is the hardest command of them all.  Everything?  Can’t I leave some things out?  Nope.  Everything, Paul says.  Do everything in love.  Not in fear, not in jealousy or envy.  Not in laziness or smugness.  In love.  Filled with grace and mercy and good will.  Not sending mixed messages that say one thing and do another.

Well, I sure have a lot of work to do.

I’d better get started.

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