In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul offers sound advice on how to oil the wheels of human community. It sounds much like my insistence to my daughters when they would quarrel, “You don’t have to like each other. But you do have to be kind to each other.”
A little kindness goes a long way in defusing tense situations. As followers of Christ, we know that kindness is more than a social advantage. It is one of many marks that indicate a follower of Christ. And Christian culture is hardly unique in promoting the benefits of treating others as we want to be treated. Most cultures and religions emphasize the need to treat people with kindness and fairness.
As Christians, this way of living becomes who we are as we imitate the ways of Christ. In Christ we become new creations, and this transformation comes from the inside out. Eventually, we don’t have to consciously decide to behave in Christlike ways—doing so becomes our very nature. Of course, being human, we sometimes slip back into less Christlike behavior; but the more we grow in Christ, the quicker we realize this and make amends.
Sometimes I sit in public places to watch strangers interact. When persons go out of their way to be Christlike to others through actions or words, I see an immediate transformation in attitude and demeanor. Smiles replace frowns, and people look at one another rather than past one another.
It is popular to ask, “What would Jesus do?” Perhaps it is better to ask, “How am I imitating Christ? Am I walking in love, demonstrating the way Christ loves us and gave his all for us?”
Gracious and loving Lord, thank you for those who live out the way of Christ among us. Help us do the same. Amen.
David’s family was a mess. Among his children there was rape, murder, and a plot to overthrow him by his son Absalom. Violence followed, and Second Samuel tells the story of Absalom’s death. Even though Absalom had betrayed him, David still loved his son with a parent’s never-ending love—the kind of love that God demonstrates perfectly for us, as David celebrates in Psalm 34. The author of Ephesians warns against acting out of anger, wrath, and malice (the very things that tore apart David’s family). We should instead forgive, as God in Christ has forgiven us. In John, Jesus restates that he is the path to God because he teaches God’s truth. Jesus will give his own life but then raise up those who believe in him.
• Read 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33. When have you been called to “deal gently” with a loved one?
• Read Psalm 34:1-8. Reflect on a time when you were able to intimately “taste and see” God’s goodness in your life.
• Read Ephesians 4:25–5:2. Are your words and actions imitating Christ?
• Read John 6:35, 41-51. God comes to us in unexpected ways. Who have you discounted as a servant of God? How can you support their ministry?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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