Grocery Visits and Supreme Court Rulings

“Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; His going out is sure as the dawn; He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:3 ESV

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV

 Grocery Visits and Supreme Court Rulings

I was in a local taco shop eating nachos when my daughter looked at the television screen over the soda counter. “Mom, look,” she pointed as her large blue eyes opened widely telling me something big had just happened. I turned to watch as the Supreme Court’s ruling on same sex marriage scrolled across the screen.

“What’s going to happen?” she asked looking for an “everything is fine” kind of response. Truth is, I really didn’t know what to say…so I stated the obvious, “Probably, there are going to be a lot of same sex marriages over the next month or so.” Then I added, “and a lot of division in the church.”

Facebook exploded. (I’d just like to know how other bloggers respond that fast?) Opinions, opinions, opinions. Comments, complaints, condemnations, blasted back and forth from both sides of the table. Christians divided on the interpretation of scripture thrown in with comments from people who could care less about scripture. Then I saw a comment that could potentially change my life forever. A comment that broke my heart into hundreds of pieces.

In response to hurtful words someone typed, “God is such a hypocrite.”

My heart screamed, “What message are we sending? Where is Christ? Oh, God, I’m so sorry!”

The week before we praised Charleston on how gracefully and beautifully they handled loss and devastation. Forgiveness and Christ’s love overflowed, as hurting loved ones demonstrated how God wants Christians to react, showing how ultimately His glory can shine through even the most brutal of times.

Now, a week later, I sat watching Christians tear the very body of Christ apart. God is not the hypocrite. We are. And what confusion we are causing as everyone around us is watching our each and every comment, move and reaction.

This last week I prayed for my response. Regardless of my feelings on this issue, my response, as a Christ follower has to be rooted in God’s love.  As a Christ follower, I believe God’s love is the only factor that can truly make a difference.

I believe what 2 Timothy 3:16 says about the word of God. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” All scripture. Genesis through Revelation is to equip us for “every good work” despite the controversies of our culture.

That’s where my focus needs to remain – on the tasks God assigns me. If I have chosen to follow Christ, how can I love the way Christ loves? How can I let Christ shine through me in such a way that others would want to know Him and desire His love in their own lives? How can I speak biblical truth in a world that doesn’t believe in the Bible? How can I speak biblical truth when my own religion is completely divided on what the scriptures are teaching? I’m going to have to study God better to understand what He is asking of me. My speaking is going to have to hold a potent and special love. A kind of love that only God has the power to give me. It is going to have to be a love that helps me hold the “me” inside and let the “Christ in me” shine through.

I was thinking about that as I drove towards the grocery store today. What does Christ shining through me look like? (Building up a story here…so bear with me.) I had lunch with my husband earlier. While eating Mediterranean food (very good stuff), I had several glasses of water. Then after the meal, we went to my favorite tea café where I enjoyed a vanilla, lime and coconut sweet tea (Um…YUM!).

By the time I reached the grocery store those liquids had worked their way through my system. I should’ve just gone to the restroom right then, but I thought, “I only have a few items, this will be quick.” Then I arrived at the check-out line (singular) with a cute little grey hair at the front. She was precious. The cashier had just finished ringing her up when she pulled out her check book. That’s when the line became a little impatient and I began shifting between legs trying not to think of liquids. Thankfully, the very wise cashier called for another cashier to come help which shifted the three people ahead of me over to the new opening, placing me next to the sweet elderly lady (all of 4’9”) who wanted to chat a bit.

(Need I emphasize again, I’m trying not to wet myself?) She smiled at me and slowly spoke, “How are you doing, Sweetie?” To which I replied, “Good. Thank you. And you?” Praying for the process to move quickly as I clamped my thighs together. (I’m a southern girl. Asking about the other person is the polite thing to do. Even if it perpetuates a continuation in a “desperately needing to be quick” conversation.)  She continued writing her check and went on with the conversation, “I’m really good. The good Lord gave me another day to wake to. I just turned 92.” She smiled at me breaking the check loose very carefully from her check book and handing it to the cashier with coupons she had forgotten.

It was at that time, I remembered my thoughts on letting Christ shine through me. Acting rudely impatient certainly was not going to get me to the restroom quicker so I smiled back as she shared how important it is to be thankful for each day because “God doesn’t promise us more than that” and how that thought has kept her alive all these years.

Then as she gathered her purse and groceries she turned to me with a sweet smile and actually thanked me for the conversation. A brief conversation in a grocery store line had helped ward off today’s battle with loneliness. (Um…BAM! In my face. Moment of recognizing the value of how Christ works to help others.)

If I live Christ’s love others will be impacted.

Yes, I made it to the restroom.

But even if I hadn’t made it, I would be glad I took that moment to let Christ shine kindness. When I get upset, I’m a pretty dark place. Which doesn’t encourage anyone to love Jesus. However, when I let Jesus shine, I can love like nobody’s business.

And…that, my friends, is my response to what I need to do. Instead of responding rudely to comments or even situations I don’t understand and am uncomfortable with, I’ve got to let Christ shine through me. How will hurting people know Christ heals, forgives, completes and fulfills if I don’t demonstrate what Christ’s love truly is? How can I show Christ, if only darkness is coming out of my mouth or being typed by my fingers on the lettered keys?

God gave scripture to teach and instruct on our actions, as Christians. Our society is not bound by most of these instructions (although some are part of our laws). I choose to follow them because I choose to follow Christ. It is a daily, moment by moment decision.  If I’m wanting people to see Christ, I’ve got to take me  and my judgments out of the equation letting the power of God do the work.  Prayer for God to give me discernment on when I need to open and shut my mouth is going to be mandatory. As is staying close to God through His word. How else will I know how he would handle things?

The following are just a few verses of hundreds that give me guidance for my actions:

  1. “You shall love the Lord you God with all you heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”  Matthew 22:37-40
  2. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20
  3. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8
  4. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:27
  5. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

God has provided plenty of work to do. My response: I am to allow Christ’s light to shine through me, so all may know Him.

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 (ESV)

Holy Week

“Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:3

 

The last few weeks I’ve been thinking about an idea that was introduced during the History portion of a class my husband and I are taking on Thursday evenings. The teacher explained (my paraphrased version): “As people reflect on history, often each event is viewed as the though nothing else was going on around it. Each event is viewed individually. However life is in continuous motion. It is more likely that there was so much going on around each historical event that the surrounding activity heavily impacted each decision in the event as it unfolded.”

Since History has never been my subject, I never really thought about what else was going on outside of what I was required to memorize for a test. However, this concept has had me thinking lately about Holy Week, the events surrounding it, and how it relates to me.

With teenagers in the house, there is a whole lot of busy at Thorntonville. I’m constantly reading articles on time management and maintaining a balanced life. I often get behind during the daily rituals that are established to help me keep up with our household. In fact, I’ve felt out of balance a lot this week coming off of spring break right into teacher conferences and extra band rehearsals for my teen’s schools. Time this week is at a maximum use, but with it being Holy Week, there is this inner struggle to slow down and take extra time for worship and reflection.

Time shortage. That was also something happening around the events of Christ’s final hours with his disciples. When I look at the Easter story, it is packed with action. One event right after the next. Life was busy and filled with emotion. The disciples and Christ were in the middle of a Holy Week, too. Passover was in motion. People were crowded into Jerusalem with all kinds of crazy happening around them.

Next I think of the twenty four hours that led up to the cross. After the Passover meal, walking to Gethsemane, praying, being betrayed and taken for questioning over and over. Add in the floggings, crowds building, hatred rising, and tension heightening.

I also reflect on the sensory overload with spectators pressing and shouting along the Via Dolorosa. The weight of the cross, the mocking of soldiers and other criminals. The sounds of the hammer. The smell of dripping blood. The taste of thirst and vinegar. The emotion of loved ones wailing. The yelling of evil among the clueless. The heaviness of the weight of the world.

Salvation came in the thick of chaos. It came through minute by minute decisions. It came through anger, emotion, fear and frustration of religious understanding of prophecy. It came through misunderstood beliefs, rebellion, lies, and cruelty. It traveled a manure covered dirt road. It was worn by a man, and yet God, dripping with sweat and blood in an environment tainted with the worst kind of confusion ever.

But Salvation persevered through the madness. Christ was steadfast as he suffered to and through the cross. Determined in His sacrifice.

Afterwards, at the climax, life left a fragile body and darkness fell upon the earth.

Then in the peacefulness of the break of the third day, Christ showed us victory!

Salvation is always relevant. But the Easter story has even more to share. It’s a story about a hero, who at a distance looked to be the underdog, in a world that was brutal, with time pressing inward. A Savior that brought  salvation while showing me how to handle those stressful times in life, by praying, staying steadfast to the task and persevering through to victory.

This Easter, I celebrate salvation. I, also, give thanksgiving for the man in Christ that persevered in his task for me. With his determination he walked through unmeasurable obstacles and pain to die so that I would have the opportunity for salvation.

Yes, my schedule is full. Life is busy.   However, I too have a choice as I walk through the obstacles of day to day. I can choose to walk determined, steadfast in my schedule as I “press on to know the Lord” (Hosea 6:3). At the end of my week I can, also, smile because I know at the break of day on Sunday morning the sound of celebration will commence in praise to my risen Savior.