On the Plains of Moab Blog
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March 19, 2012, 7:58 AM

Just Be Nice?

As I think about what I commended to you yesterday in the sermon, I must tell you that I have somewhat mixed feelings about it.  You see, even though you needed to hear some of that, you were probably not shocked by what you heard.  Smile a little more?  Check.  Be a good employee? Check.  Stop gossiping?  Oooh, well, okay, I think... Check!  Perhaps you thought my main drift was "just be nice"?  Perhaps.  And if you did, well, that's okay by me.

You see, I think the "congregation" that needed to hear that message the most would probably be one that tended to take their collective selves a bit too seriously; who know their doctrine; and who only want "the meat" of the Word.  These folks don't want the watered down, nice, lite version of the Faith.  They are serious!

That, I suggest, would probably be the type of congregation that could have benefitted most from yesterday's message, even as it would have most likely made them wince!

My conviction is that  God has surely declared the end from the beginning.  God will see this project through.  Because Jesus has come the first time, we know that he will come again.  It is God's work, period.  However, and this is the part of the puzzle that I have been sorely neglecting for most of my Christian life -- WE have been invited into this project.  God is reclaiming the territory one soul at a time.  And, once captured, we have a role in this drama of redemption!

And so, I just sat there on Friday afternoon, trying to think of ways that we could be involved.  I wanted to think of ways that we could be salt and light in our world.  I wanted to think of ways that we could hasten the Day.  That Day.

I used to think that the only way that we could be a part of the project was "soul winning."  Sharing the Gospel.  Missions!  Getting "decisions for Christ."  Getting involved in politics, electing "evangelical" candidates for public office.  Fighting hard in the public square for Christian causes.  Preaching and teaching serious theology in the church. So on, and so forth.

Now, I must say, Many of those items are well and good.  We do surely want to share the Gospel.  We long to see souls "won for Christ."  We do want to be good stewards with our civic involvement -- by all means, vote!  And we do want to speak a word of truth to and about the culture we live in.  Lord knows, there is much dross out there in the public arena!

But, I think we need to get back to the basics.  How does it look when God has invaded your life?  What does it look like when God's people are living out the New Day that Jesus proclaimed in that Nazareth synagogue when he said "This is it!  Tikkun Olam, dude!"  (I paraphrase, of course!)

Thus the list from yesterday.  I reproduce it here for your re-digesting!

  • Live your life faithfully where you have been called -- Whatever vocation.  Use the abilities that God has given you for the common up-building and bettering of our world.
  • Be a dedicated, trusted employee.
  • Be a fair and understanding boss.
  • Be a good student.
  • Be a faithful friend.
  • Love your spouse and your children.
  • Practice forgiveness and kindness – loving your neighbor just as you love your own flesh.
  • Recognize every human being as a potential object of God’s mercy.  No matter what they look like.  No matter how they live.  No matter their social standing.
  • Share the hope and love of God’s grace and love in Jesus Christ when you have the opportunity.
  • Do things that you wouldn’t normally do because it would put you out or cost you a little more than you want to spend.
  • Stop gossiping and start saying graceful things about people – even people you don’t like.
  • Speak healing words.  Speak encouraging words.
  • Be someone who is dependable; not a selfish twit.
  • Speak when you have a voice to what you know that God would desire for your neighborhood; your town; your world.
  • Be a part of the solution; not the problem.
  • Recognize the oh-so-hard-to-accept-reality that true freedom isn’t about unrestricted, libertine free choice, but that freedom is tethered to the truth of God’s Word.
  • Be a student of the Word.  Pray without ceasing.  Grow in your love for Jesus a little more each day.
  • Train your mind and heart in holiness.  As Paul says, take every thought captive!
  • Smile a little more often.



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