Two Components of Faithfulness

Think for a minute how you define your faithfulness to your spouse or a person you are dating? I find an interesting tendency when people are asked about faithfulness: it tends to be defined or described by the things that they DON’T do. For instance, faithfulness means not having an affair, not looking at other men/women, not talking bad about my significant other, not staying at work late, not going out with friends every night, or not spending money secretly. That is the deprivation view of faithfulness. Deprivation says now that I’m in this relationship, I have to keep myself from other (better?) options. My partner knows that I am faithful because of what I am depriving myself. Indeed, not doing things is certainly part of faithfulness, but a larger component of being faithful seems to be what is DONE. Rather than thinking in terms of the things we don’t do that would tear another down, it is a beneficial lens to look to the ways that the other can be built up. Having an affair is clearly a case of unfaithfulness. But how would we categorize the spouse that refuses sexual intimacy? Or the partner that dedicates their best time and energy to the workplace? Or the person that continually uses unkind words to tear down another? Doing what is best for another, even when it is not best for you demonstrates faithfulness. Pursuing oneness by putting the marriage (or relational needs) above personal needs allows both to reap the benefit of security. God is described as faithful; staying true to his promises this attribute of being faithful is demonstrated throughout the Bible. The ultimate...

The Question to Ask

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. – 1 Corinthians 10:23 This verse is delivered by Paul in the context of discussing the eating of meat that has been sacrificed to idols. The Corinthians wanted to know if this was a problem for the follower of Christ who does not believe in, follow, nor derive wholeness from the idol. For us and our post-christian culture the thought behind this question is still relevant and crucial. It could be phrased like this: Can I participate in trick-or-treating? Is it OK to go to that movie? Can I wear that bikini at the beach? And there are numerous other situations in which the question could be asked. We like black and white answers. A clear right and wrong. But, unfortunately Paul seems to paint with a lot of gray on his brush. The answer is that we have a great amount of liberty in Christ. There is nothing inherently wrong with going to people’s doors and asking for candy. Or wearing a particular bathing suit. Yet, there is a further, deeper consideration. As believers, we are all interconnected. This is the premise that what I do as part of the body can have real – even if unintended – consequences to other parts of the body. We need to live in awareness of this interconnection. Paul reiterates this idea in Romans 14:1 – 12. So, is it OK to eat the meat sacrificed to idols? Well, yes it is. Christ is the fulfillment of the law. Yet the reality is –...

Experience Life

Ours is a culture that drives us to try harder and convinces us that we can do anything to which we put our minds. But, both of these narratives are lies, both in the spiritual world and without. We are conditioned toward self-effort. Romans 8:13 says that the way we put to death the misdeeds of the body – the corrupt fruit of bad behaviors, destructive decisions, and unhealthy ways or relating – is not by a force of our own will. It is by the Spirit. The Spirit is our partner, guide, and counselor in this endeavor of sanctification. It is for us to live by the Spirit, being open to the counsel and direction that we are so graciously given. God marks us as his own with the Spirit, and connection with God is established through this part of him that now lives in us. When we don’t know what to pray, the Spirit does. It is up to us to approach the throne. Through the Spirit, we have the opportunity for 24/7 communion with our Creator and Sustainer of our identity. It is up to us to deny our self and surrender to the Spirit, not living according to the enticing, tempting, comfortable, familiar patterns of the old nature. but instead living in communion, secure in our identity as God’s chosen, redeemed in Christ. Freedom is the result of living by the Spirit. The experience of LIFE. Not encumbered by the standards of the world, not battling shame, not enticed by the enemy. Rather than trying harder for the false self, we live joyful in the...

What is Acceptance?

So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. – Matthew 22:10 The king had sent out a save the date announcement about his son’s upcoming wedding. Preparations were made and time went by, but the invited were to keep their eyes open and be ready. When all was set, the king sent word…and none of the invited came. So, Matthew 22:10 above tells of the king’s next command to his servants being executed – go and invite anyone you can find. Good and bad, they were brought in and the wedding hall was filled. This is a picture of a God who meets us where we are; He demonstrates acceptance. As part of the character of God, acceptance is then supposed to become part of our demonstrated character. Because of both our pride and the culture we live in, we get confused about what acceptance is. Acceptance is not to be confused with approval. Approval calls brokenness wholeness. It redefines the terms, and creates a man-based standard. It is simply doing what is right in our own eyes, and is a way to try to create wholeness apart from God. Approval of brokenness is a product of the false self. Because of the inherent worth we all have a image bearers of God, every person merits being accepted by followers of Christ and those that lead them. But, we are each in a broken state. When we accept another we understand that person is broken and is...

Gain Perspective. Live Well.

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