Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Shepastor: “No One Takes My Life, I Give it Willingly…”
One of the most challenging things to do is to “hold back” when offences are made deliberately. At times people will say and do things just to see how you as a follower of Christ will react. While we are “free indeed,” as people of God, we are called to consider others before ourselves. Of course this is counter cultural and counter intuitive but the love of Christ in us, “constrains us.” If we are honest, at times we become weary of “turning the other cheek.” If we are honest, there are times when we don’t feel like “taking the high road.” At times, we just don’t feel like “being the bigger person.” There are days when we want to just tell folks where to go, how to get there and add, “Don’t come back!!!”
In addition to all of that, the strength, courage and energy it takes to maintain a character of humility and obedience to the Spirit of Christ can leave us feeling un/under -appreciated, bruised and foolish. The enemy of our souls whispers, “How can you allow them to treat you like that? You should tell them off! Tell them who you are! Curse them out! Kick their…!”
I am in no way suggesting that a person should remain in unhealthy, unsafe and abusive situations. I am, however, speaking about more subtle experiences that happen through interpersonal relationships. Whether working in the church, the school, the community, in the home, or just with other people in general, we are called to exemplify a measure of self-control, humility and grace that is not always readily apparent – sometimes even among our own!
Jesus’ words, however, spoken within the context of describing “the Good Shepherd,” can be empowering. He declared, 18 No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.” John 10: 18, NLT
When we choose to represent Christ through love, peace, grace and humility, even in the face of rude, insensitive and even ugly behavior, we are, in a sense, “laying down our lives.” In other words, when we choose, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to reflect the life and love of Christ in the face of fleshly, and ugly behaviors, we glorify God and ultimately teach people the more excellent way. Satan will try to batter our psyche with taunts that we are weak…not respected…a door mat etc. But in fact the opposite is true.
About a year ago, I was publicly “talked down to” by another pastor during a clergy meeting. I respectfully raised a question that he felt I had no right to ask. He began to berate me and talk over me. It was stunning, hurtful and uncalled for. By the grace of God, I chose to calmly finish my remarks and remain seated. I stayed until the meeting was over. It really, really bothered me (and yes, I tried to speak with him after the meeting to calmly discuss the matter, to no avail!).
Later, I understood that others at the meeting confronted him about his behavior and he has since acted slightly more respectful towards me! But the real blessing came about a year later. A community leader who attended that meeting came to me and said, “I did not know who you were, but I was so impressed with how gracefully you handled the ugliness of that person’s words toward you. I knew then that I wanted to get to know you better. You are such an example!” I was shocked! I had no idea that anyone even noticed my response to the situation.
Jesus’ words are empowering. When negative thoughts seek to invade our hearts and rob us of our peace, telling us that we are “wimps” for not meeting “fire with fire,” we can remind ourselves, No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.
No, no…we are not wimps, or doormats, or weak…we are obedient servants of the Most High God! We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. We are blessed and highly favored. May our will be only to please God and in turn, bless, heal and teach others.
Singer/Song Writer, Damaris Carbaugh captures the sentiment of this message in her song, Willingly. Listen to this powerful message in song by clicking on the link below…
Post a comment or send me an email to Shepastor1@hotmail.com
Until Next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,