Devotional Thought of the Day:
1 You have been raised to life with Christ, so set your hearts on the things that are in heaven, where Christ sits on his throne at the right side of God. 2 Keep your minds fixed on things there, not on things here on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 Your real life is Christ and when he appears, then you too will appear with him and share his glory!
Colossians 3:1-4 (TEV)
97 Renew each day the effective desire to empty yourself, to deny yourself, to forget yourself, to walk in novitiate census, with a new life, exchanging this misery of ours for all the hidden and eternal grandeur of God. (1)
Since teaching through Colossians a couple of years ago, these words in red above seem to resonate with me more and more. I have written about them before, and will probably do so again.
I think they are critical for us to understand, this idea of our “real life”, a life which seems hidden, a life which is easily overlooked and forgotten, a life that is found at the throne of God.
THat’s where we belong, it is our eternal life. The life that began when God circumcised our hearts, cutting away the sin and unrighteousness as He baptized us. That was the conversation in the previous chapter in St. Paul’s letter to these saints.
But in chapter 3 he gets to the impact of that cleansing, the difference it makes in our lives today, and every day that will come. He talks of our eternal life as our real life, our reality. He urges us to set our hearts on this dance with God the Father, Son and Spirit. The dance we’ve been invited too, and see glimpses of, even if our mind cannot clearly picture it.
If our mind cannot, our hearts and soul can be set on this. For our hearts are better at knowing we are loved, knowing we are forgiven, and being able to accept the mysteries that our minds can’t fathom.
But as our hearts settle there, we dwell in the peace of God, we lose ourselves, yet find our life in Jesus. For everything changes, from our priorities, to our relationships, from what we “need” to how we view those around us.
So today, think about the glory of heaven and come to realize with your heart that not only do you have a place there… you are already in His presence…
and rejoice in that peace!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 556-558). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:12-14 (NLT)
When I speak to you of good example, I mean to tell you, too, that you have to understand and excuse, that you have to fill the world with peace and love.(2)
It is a phase we all go through, a defensive mechanism that we revert to in moments where we’ve been “caught” in the act. In a five year old, it can be a little cute and hilarious. In a 30 year old, or even a 50 or 70 year old – not so much. I am talking about making up and giving excuses. The ways in which we try to bend the perception of others, in regards to our actions (and their perceptions are often accurate) to get them to put the best construction, the best reasoning on our actions. We may say things without thinking, we may do something that was wrong, whether we know it or not at the time.
And a five year old can make up some of the silliest excuses you’ve ever heard! Again – kinda cute, a interesting phase.
But what if the best…way of dealing with excuses was not to be found in the one making them, but in the one to whom they are made?
If I read Paul’s words above, and they were practiced, especially the ones underlined, we see a relationship in which a person wouldn’t have to give you excuses – there would be no need! If we trusted each other, to forgive, to make allowance for our mistakes, why would we bother? If we could comprehend the love, the charity (see the last two blogs for charity/love) would we be so quick to find excuses? If we put the best construction, saw the best in what each other did – as Luther taught, would we need to create incredible stories – and get defensive? If we sought to understand and excuse, to fill the world with love and peace… would others need to blame others?
As I think about the community of faith, and the sanctuary it should be, about how we should be able to strengthen each other, build up each other, help each other overcome temptation, this is one of the greatest ways. To mutually work to create an environment where mercy and love are demonstrated, are encouraged, where peace reigns, because we learn not to be defensive, because we do not have to be! What a wondrous environment we could create! We would be the church God intended, a church were people ran for absolution, for forgiveness and would find assurance of it. Accountability wouldn’t be a law driven concept, but one that we rejoiced in, knowing those asking us questions were actually interested in helping us thrive.
It starts simply – not with trying to find excuses for our actions, but excusing and forgiving the actions of others….knowing that is exactly what Christ did!
Even simple – this won’t be easy…. so let us cry for God’s mercy!
And know and be assured – and assure each other… He has listened and is merciful!
(1) Luther’s Small Catechism: Developed and Explained.
(2)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2103-2104). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.