May 20, 2020 WEDNESDAYI am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. — John 17:15-16
Dear Friends in Christ,
Often I hear the phrase that as followers of Jesus, we are “in the world without being of the world.” I also hear of Jesus followers, they are “so heavenly focused, they’re no earthly good.” How would you summarize your spiritual life?
Jesus tells a parable in Luke’s Gospel about building on a solid foundation. You can build your “spiritual house” on a solid foundation of rock, or on sand that changes and shifts in the storm. Choose wisely. The solid foundation is a life transformed by the Spirit of God’s love, a life long process we grow into. Some reordering of your life may be needed – not radical decisions that turn you away from the world, but turn you more fully in God, who shows in Jesus what love for this world looks like. It’s an ongoing struggle. Stay focused on Jesus.
In these present days, it may be good to examine closely the foundation on which you’re building. How you react to situations and to others may hold a clue. I recently heard a story about a Christian musician, a person whose faith expressions and beliefs are probably not like mine. He played a concert to a full house, caught the Coronavirus and soon died. He did not heeding warnings that could have prevented contracting the virus and his death — a tragic and sad decision. In the aftermath of his death the family received threats, vicious posts on their Facebook page, were called vile names, and told, “you got what you deserved,” another tragic and sad situation. And God continues to “so love this world.” As an old custodian gentleman said to me one day at church when I was going off on someone, “Rev, none of us ain’t no lilies.”
We do not belong to the world, yet we live in the world. We make mistakes and suffer for it. We take precautions and suffer in a different way. The world — is not going to teach you to love one another, forgive those who hurt you, lay down your life for your friends. The world won’t say, “fear not,” or “love your enemies.” The world will not form you to live compassionately, to wash feet, to care for those who can’t pull their weight, who suffer from making bad choices. The world is not an evil place. Sometimes we make it that way — by how we treat one another. God loves it so much. And God loves you enough to let you choose the foundation upon which you’ll build your life.
As Jesus does, pray and listen for God’s voice. Ask. Wait patiently. Don’t get so far ahead of God, you no longer see him. Maybe if you ask and don’t receive what you want, God’s telling you something important. God may be purifying, refining, transforming you — for what’s better. If you practice and keep at it, your house will have a solid foundation to withstand storms, like now. When you pray “Thy will be done on earth as in heaven” — try adding, “Your will be done in me, here on earth, as in heaven.” As G.K. Chesterton said, “It’s not that Christianity has been tried and found wanting. It’s been tried and found difficult.”May God grant us strength and wisdom for the living of these days, Fr. Steve