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Answering God – Day 31

Answering God – 40 Days with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

A&Q sidewaysDay 31 – Wednesday after 5th Sunday of Lent

To Read: 

Bring into God’s light those emotions, attitudes and prejudices in yourself which lie at the root of destructive conflict, acknowledging your need for forgiveness and grace.
In what ways are you involved in the work of reconciliation between individuals, groups and nations?
(Advices & Queries #32)

bigstock-Prejudice-Word-From-Wooden-B-321833863-770x513

From the Scriptures: 

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 
(2 Corinthians 5v16-20)

  

To Reflect:

I was torn as to which Scripture passage to choose for today.  The apostle’s words about our inability to do the good we want to do (Romans 7v15-19) have challenged me frequently when I have chosen to not love others as myself.  Dwelling on this too often, for me, descends into a pity party of my own unworthiness and leaves little room for me to bring light to others.

The words from 2 Corinthians, reconciliation-picon the other hand, calls me out of despair and unworthiness into the bright light of new and renewed relationships with those around me.

Romans Chapter 7 reminds me that, left to my own devices, I will mess up in the grand manner.  2 Corinthians Chapter 5 calls me into the light and tells me that I, whose only qualification is that I know I get things wrong, can be useful to the One Who Loves us Best. God loves me, loves us, so much, that we are trusted, recruited, and given the ministry of reconciliation.

On reflection this should not surprise use.  After all who is better to dispense love and reconciliation than those who have been on the receiving end of such love?  We are called to be the visible evidence and witness to the world of the power of the reconciliation won for the whole of creation on the cross.

So, why do we not behave as if we ourselves are redeemed and reconciled?

And

Why do we continue to regard others, even Christian sisters and brothers, from a human point of view?

there is only usToday’s Advice reminds us that in the perpetual argument between ‘them’ and ‘us’ the solution to the problem does not lie with ‘them’ but with ‘us’!  This Lent I find myself being constantly called back to the one task I set myself on Ash Wednesday I mentioned earlier. ‘Refuse to talk about “they” and “them”, for the world to survive there is only “us”.  (Ask me during Easter how well I managed).

It is a hard and humbling lesson to learn that, most often, the reason why we judge other people to be wrong, or not to be living correctly, or going against ‘natural’ law, is not because of what ‘they’ believe and do but because of our own emotions, attitudes and prejudices’. 

When we allow these emotions, attitudes and prejudices’ to hold sway in our life this becomes how we encounter others;

  • We are Christians who live in the light.removing hijab
  • We follow Jesus, so all that we do must be right.
  • So all that is believed and done differently by another must be wrong, heretical or even downright sinful.
  • It is our ‘duty’ to tell them they are ‘wrong’ and we must ‘rescue’
  • If they don’t do what we tell them it becomes our ‘duty’ to condemn them.

And it is as we judge our sisters and brothers, for whatever reason, that we die in our selfishness instead of dying to self…

This leads us to the challenge of the Advices.

In what ways are you involved in the work of reconciliation between individuals, groups and nations?

This is the only task for which we are remotely qualified.

Living in the knowledge of the grace of God we have been reconciled, and so now we are qualified to do one thing and one thing only; work for reconciliation with others.

Christians living in enmity with non-Christians is proof not of the waywardness of others but proof that we have not yet renounced all our prejudices.  Christians living in enmity with other Christians (especially within a congregation) is just downright sinful and demands repentance.

Hear the words of Scripture again:

…we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 

 

To Pray:

Lord,
make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;Peace in world langauges
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, union; 

Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that we may not so much
seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
 

(Written by a WWI French Army Chaplain, attributed to St Francis of Assisi)

 

To Do:

1)  Read slowly the note from ‘Advices & Queries’ above again
2)  Pray for God to bless one person in your fellowship with whom you cannot agree with or get along.  Gove them a small gift or greeting card to show your appreciation of them.

 

Acknowledgements:

Quotes from ‘Advices & Queries’ are copyright © The Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain, 1995, 1997 and 2008

Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Prayers from ‘Prayers for Hard Times’ are copyright  © Becca Anderson 2017

These Reflections, ‘Answering God’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2020 – and may be reproduced without charge on condition that the source is acknowledged

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