LentBlog 2015, Day 40: Towards Outsiders…

Colossians 4:2-6, NRSV:

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. At the same time pray for us as well that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison, so that I may reveal it clearly, as I should.

Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time.[a]Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.


We live in the great State of Indiana. I like Indiana. I grew up here, and being back in the state after 16+ years away is in some ways like putting on an old, well-fitting T-shirt. In some other ways, though, it’s also like a bad Twilight Zone trip.

This week, the Indiana governor signed a bill into law that supposedly promotes something like “religious freedom.” Lots of right-wing, politically conservative Christians are celebrating in the streets, touting a major victory. Lots of centrist and left-wing, politically liberal Christians are shouting just as loudly, claiming this new law is a license to discriminate.

I’m left shaking my head. My non-Christian friends are taking to their Facebook walls and Twitter accounts  pointing out that we all look like a bunch of idiots.

I haven’t read the whole law. I know I need to. We celebrated Sabbath today and did a sum-total of not much around the house.

But here’s the deal for me tonight: this passage from Colossians calls us to:

Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time.[a]Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.

Conduct yourselves wisely towards outsiders. Towards folks not yet in the faith. Towards folks who might not believe God even exists, let alone that Jesus is the savior. Towards folks who live as if they haven’t met Jesus, not forgetting that some folks in the church act as if they haven’t met Jesus.

Let your speech be gracious to them. Now repeat that. LET YOUR SPEECH BE GRACIOUS TO THEM.

Folks, in the midst of Facebook wars, boycott threats, and “religious freedom” acts, could we please… like, pretty please with sugar on top… stop trying to win some culture war and start seeing people with Kingdom eyes? PLEASE? 

It seems to me the role of the Kingdom in this world is not to defend my rights. It seems to me we’ve got far too much work to do living-out prevenient grace to spend too much time worrying about such things. Because here’s the thing: as Christians called to live out a Kingdom ethic, we will not agree with the lifestyle choices many people make. It happens. But our speech, our attitudes, our politics, and for Pete’s sake our Tweets and Facebook posts can and must be gracious. And if that means someone infringes my “rights” every so often, so be it. We’ve got bigger fish to fry and a much more redemptive calling.

Blessings,

Mark

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LentBlog Day 10: Hope That Does Not Dissapoint

Romans 5:1-5

Paul is full-on into his presentation of righteousness by faith. He’s laid out that our faith must be like Abraham’s, who truly trusted God to creates something out of nothing. We are called to the same faith: We’re called to believe the Father raised the Son from the dead, again creating something out of nothing.

The something God creates in us is Righteousness. Paul reminds us that if we boast, we boast about the chance we’ve been given, through grace, to share in God’s righteousness: the hope we have in the Lord that after all this judgment Paul has been pronouncing, we might actually have peace with God. And that leaves me feeling pretty good… until I hit verses 3-4:

 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.hope

Boast in sufferings? Because, according to this, sufferings produce a hope that does not disappoint. But hope doesn’t come easily in this case. One must follow the journey:

Sufferings —> Endurance —> Character—>Hope.

And while it is true hope does not disappoint, it’s a formative, long, sometimes painful road to walk that leads there. God wants to form our character. God wants us to have the endurance we need in the world. He wants the hope we have to be in Him, and not ourselves.

That’s what Lent is about. It’s an intentional crucible of character formation. We walk the way of the cross and end up at the grave. It’s hard. It’s painful. But when Easter explodes onto the scene, we find ourselves better prepared to appreciate it and live it.