by: Micki Gowdy
Take 10 @ 10:00 - Our Friday Devotional
This week we continue to focus on how our faith can, and should, transform our lives. It's easy to talk about transforming judgment into love, but actually doing it is hard. Pride, judgment, self-focus come naturally to us; it's easier to look down on people who are different from us or do things we believe are wrong. Love for others and humility in ourselves (admitting we might not have all the answers or might be wrong) require intentionality on our part, and the understanding we won't always get it right. There will be a lot of starting, failing, and starting over again. And, that's okay - it's part of being human! The key is to keep at it. That is part of our growth in spiritual maturity.
Question to consider: Paul says in Romans 12:16, "Consider everyone as equal, and don't think that you are better than anyone else." Do you see this very often in society? What about in the church? What does this look like in practice?
In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus tells us the greatest commandment we have is to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. The second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves. What does that look like in practice? Read Matthew 5:1-16. These verses are part of the Sermon on the Mount, considered the greatest teaching (or sermon) of Jesus. What do you see as the central theme or themes in these verses?
Jesus broke down barriers by refusing to judge those society would call sinners or outcasts. Read John 8:2-11. It was considered 'proper" in Jewish culture to not just avoid sinners and outcasts (those considered "unclean"), but to draw attention to them and judge them. Instead, Jesus reached out to them, met their needs, and included them in his ministry. In addition to this woman in John 8, Jesus spoke with a Samaritan woman, called a tax collector named Zacchaeus out of a tree and then went to his home and ate with him, healed the servant of a Roman centurion, and the list goes on.
So, how do we deal with people with whom we have genuine disagreements? Here's a thought for you: George W. Bush and Hillary Rodham Clinton are both active members of United Methodist churches. It might help to remember a famous Wesleyan saying: "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, love." Essentials, by the way, are not a political party - essentials are essentials of the faith, matters that relate directly to salvation. Essentials would include belief in God and in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. For Wesley, these essential truths were different from matters of opinion. But, the final reminder is, that whether we agree or disagree, we do it in love.
Matthew 5:48 commands us to "be perfect, as our heavenly father is perfect." Can we be "perfect?" Wesley thought it possible to become perfect in our love for God and others - IF we allowed the grace of God to work in us to transform our minds and our lives. By the grace of God, are you making progress toward that goal?
Here's a song from the Gaither Vocal Band that reminds us of our calling. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7LeR8Thv6I