Linked to post for Sunday, Sept 6, 2020
Our call to guard God’s goodness.
Our responsibility for saying, doing, and living out what God gives us.
Watch a one-minute introduction to this theme:
Here’s a fact. God is good and His way of living brings His order and peace into our lives.
But, guess what? That order is always being attacked and disrupted – whether through wars and persecutions, or bureaucratic bullying, or just the pain of unavoidable personal conflicts.
If we belong to God’s kingdom — in other words, we belong by choice to Jesus — we are part of His peacekeeping force, sent to gently restore His rule. What is that — everyone sitting in lines in a church building? No, it’s much more down to earth. God sent His Son Jesus to be the model of what His kind of love looks like, and the means of reconciliation for humanity. So that’s not complicated. What we stand for, what would be written on our peacekeepers’ white helmets if we had them, is K G L R, Kingdom of God for Love and Reconciliation.
Ezekiel the watchman
Let’s start with the Old Testament perspective This message starts to emerge through Ezekiel, Ezekiel 33:7–11 He received a word about being a watchman, guarding the safety of God’s way and warning of the dangers of leaving it. What does a watchman do? Keep watch, obviously, and call out a warning when it’s needed. So, with the same Holy Spirit’s help, we are spiritual watchmen, with a sense of God’s right and wrong. The Holy Spirit alerts us to ways the enemy can get a foothold.
Jesus teaches reconciliation
So what do we do when things are going wrong? The next perspective is from the NT in the gospel era Matthew 18:15–20. This is Jesus’ teaching on how to guard God’s way in reconciling conflicts. From this we gather that conflicts are pretty much bound to occur. Even spiritual people lapse into all-too-human abrasive behaviours and we have a spiritual enemy prowling around, ready to turn any misunderstanding into a conflict. So we need a way of resolving those conflicts and reconciling differences.
It starts with us being honest about what’s happening and how someone’s words or actions have made us feel. When we are looking to find reconciliation, often it comes down to a misunderstanding that can be put right. Sometimes it is not so clear, and that’s the time to ask one or two others to step in and be the watchmen of God’s good way, seeing where reconciliation can be found. If that fails to bring reconciliation, then the church congregation needs to have its say, because reconciliation and good relationships in the body of Christ are of paramount importance. If one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers, as Paul teaches elsewhere. The congregation as a whole need to be watchmen of God’s way, which is love and forbearance. If this is threatened, it becomes everyone’s responsibility to steer it back into grace and love.
Paul emphasises love as summarising all God’s commands
We are getting the message about our responsibility as guardians of God’s way. Now that is reinforced by Paul’s teaching Romans 14:1–12 that love — not emotional love, but love of the unconditional, sacrificial kind — is the true fulfilment of all the commands of the law. It’s straightforward: if we are living by the rule of love, we simply won’t get into inappropriate relationships, nor deprive others of what is theirs. We won’t want to do violence to them or their reputation. The Great Commandment that Jesus set out, and which Paul reinforces, is to love God (which means loving God’s way, values and goodness) and as a consequence, loving others with the same consideration we have for our own wants and needs.
It’s counter-cultural but effective
Living God’s way, the way of love, isn’t easy. It sets us against the way other people do things. It is likely to be misunderstood, or abused as other take advantage. Upholding God’s truth, radically mediating conflicts, giving love where there’s none in return: some would say it’s a mug’s game. Others would grudgingly agree, this is more effective than protests to start building a better world for all. And what is certain, when we choose the way that God invented and hold on to it — that is where we know the warmth of His favour and are lit by the light of His presence.
Back to September 13 post
Back to September 6 post