Now, however, you all must strip yourselves of these things: the desire to punish, your temper, spite, speaking evil of one another, and foul language from your mouth. Don’t deceive one another. You have renounced the old self, along with its practices, and have put on the new self which is being renewed in the image intended by its creator. That image is not Greek or Jewish, circumcised or uncircumcised, outsider, uncivilized, slave or free. Instead, Christ is all and in all!Colossians 3:8-11 (My translation)
I hope everyone’s summer has gone well and been enjoyable and without incident. For some, this time has been one of relaxation and renewal. For others, maybe all the plans have been stressful, and as you have moved from event to event, or locale to locale, you’ve found yourself discontent. Again, I hope not, but I know it happens.
I know it happens because I’ve been there. There have been years when getting the “crew” together to go and do something has been a chore, to say the least, and as the trip progressed, one thing after another just didn’t pan out the way I had envisioned. People get sick. Sometimes the weather just won’t cooperate. Often, and this is true of longer trips, people get tired and want to get off the itinerary.
If you are anything like me, this doesn’t sit well. All that time planning, and all for naught! Don’t the kids get what a major investment of your time, energy, and strength was put into getting all this together? Why doesn’t my spouse get it? How in the world did the hotel lose my reservation?
Again, I get it. In the way of advice, and not to sound too clichéd, counting to ten does help. So does a deep breath. Sometimes, you might just find that your rope has a little length left before you reach the end. More than anything, it is good to remember that you did all this out of love, and though things might not be going according to plan, the love that inspired your great road trip cannot vanish into the ether just because life happened to throw you a curveball.
In short, you’ve got to hold on to, remember, and embrace the best part of your motives as well as the best in others, even though they aren’t cooperating. It’s the love that’s worth remembering, not the negativity. In a way, it is through love that we touch upon our true natures, our true selves as God’s children. Who we truly are never ceases (see 1 Corinthians 13:8). Even better, that love which is truly the bridge between the broken fragments of our time and God’s eternity is constantly new and fresh because it issues forth from the living heart of God in Christ Jesus.
What’s great is that, as Christians, we know this because we are new creation, born of God’s self-giving love. That love has renewed us despite our own flaws. That love doesn’t allow us the luxury of seeing ourselves, our motives, and our hearts separately from the good of others. In this new creation conformed to the image of God present in us through Christ, God’s designs are beginning to bloom. In God’s purposes, not only are we being renewed, so are others with whom we are frustrated. Because of this grace, we no longer throw up walls of separation that allow us to speak or think evil of others with whom we are called to share in the divine communion.
Because we are new creation, what we are left with is a vision in which, as Paul tells us, Christ is all and in all. His reconciling love motivates our actions. He even dominates our vision as we look upon those around us.
It’s hard to look upon your kids, your spouse, your neighbor, your fellow congregant, see Christ, and stay mad for very long!