Today’s news is filled with things like Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for the national anthem, ongoing complaints about responses to the flooding in Louisiana, gun violence deaths in Chicago, etc. How many of you are trying to convince others your particular perspective on Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump, etc. What do you do when you don’t like what someone says or does? Do you apply your own opinion and process your judgment accordingly? Is it possible to see the perspective through the lens of another? The temptation to force an opinion…to demand a point of view…to force a particular direction – we humans are capable of much when it comes to our opinions. And yet, we try to wrestle with how God wants us to interact and influence the lives of those around us and those we meet. We hear the words, “go, therefore and make disciples of all nations…” and yet, we often forget that those disciples that climbed that particular mountain following Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, met in worship and some of them, believe it or not…doubted.
When I worked for Exelon, there were certain expectations that had little margin for interpretation. It is pretty easy to understand expectations like 0 lost time accidents or $8.65 per MWe/hr. But…in our everyday lives trying to be faithful Christians…how do you deal with virtues like: “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”…or, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.” And when someone offends us, or doesn’t have the same opinion as us…how do we work through “forgive as the Lord forgave you”.
The temptation to be judgmental is all around us and we often forget simple assurances of pardon like, “Who is in a position to condemn? Only Christ. And Christ died for us, Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us.” (Romans 8:34 paraphrased) The words from our author of the letter to the Colossians is appropriate here, as followers of Christ we are urged to be patient…to be gentle with each other. And when we want to lean on the word “admonish”, we should understand it in the context of the entire passage…in wisdom and gratitude as we worship God.
When we are tempted to judge others based on our own opinions, we should remember that it is Christ’s peace that is to rule. Another way to sum up the words of Paul might go like this…because of Jesus we are reconciled to God so you/we are at peace, so let’s live out that peace in our personal and gathered life together….and, don’t forget to be thankful in response to God’s grace in all we do in word or deed”.