Difficult times, difficult people, what now? - 23 October 2020
By Ewald Schmidt
- Philippians 2:14-16
14Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15so that you may be innocent and pure as God's perfect children, who live in a world of corrupt and sinful people. You must shine among them like stars lighting up the sky, 16as you offer them the message of life. If you do so, I shall have reason to be proud of you on the Day of Christ, because it will show that all my effort and work have not been wasted.
We are called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus on our journey through life in this world. We are called to serve with our gifts, for God makes us willing and able to do it all to his glory. But it is not that easy! Does Paul know how difficult it is in the year 2020, amidst the Covid-19 pandemic? Could he appreciate how hard the hearts of mankind have become over the years? If only he could read this mornings’ newspaper or Twitter feed, he would know better … And there we begin to compile our list of excuses of how difficult our calling is to follow Christ, and how rude the people around us really are again.
I have learned an important lesson from Paul over the years. I am not in control of the circumstances in the world around me. I am not even able to change one person’s attitude. But I am always responsible for my own thoughts, behaviour and deeds. Even more so when I am under pressure. Paul speaks to my inner life. Do not grumble! Do not complain on the inside about how unfair your life is and about how much better everyone else is doing. It poisons your soul, it creates bitterness and helps nothing. But Paul also speaks to our outer life – the way we interact with others. Stop arguing. Nobody has ever been successfully argued into the kingdom of God. But all come to Christ through his love, and our Christlike service. Don’t argue, serve …
But the people … Yes, they are warped and crooked, like they have always been, since Genesis 3 up to Revelation 22. Like you and me without the grace of God. That is where we come in. We are left in this dark world, amongst warped and crooked people, to be part of God’s solution. In the darkness, a light is needed. We are called to be the light bearers in this dark world and show the way. Jesus said so! We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world – Matthew 5:13-14. We are needed where people are corrupt, to show God’s love and compassion, and model an alternative life of hope. Shine in the darkness to glorify God. That is our mission in life!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have walked the path of life through this world before us. You know exactly how warped and crooked mankind is. But you came to this world to heal, to rescue, and to give us hope and life. We are following in your footsteps: serving others to shine for you. Help us to stop complaining and start witnessing. Help us to stop arguing and start washing feet. Help me to love with humility to glorify you, and reflect your light in the darkness around me. Amen