Yesterday I wrote, “I want to consider my role in the community by starting with these questions: how do you provoke someone to love and good deeds? And am I provoking anyone to love and good deeds? Is it possible that I am provoking people to do the opposite of love and good deeds through my actions? What do I need to change?” There is a reason I used the word community in the Ash Wednesday blog and not Church.
Here are a couple of the passages from the Bible which motivated my use of the word “community”:
1. Romans 12: 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
2. 1 Thessalonians 4: 10 But we urge you, beloved, to do so more and more, 11 to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we directed you, 12 so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and be dependent on no one.
I do, certainly, want always to consider my role in the Church and how I treat my fellow Christians, but that is not my only role, not amongst my friends, my family, my neighbors, my students, my colleagues and those people around me whom I do not know. This might be considered especially the case in a world as multicultural as ours today, that we need to be sensitive and thoughtful of the views and needs of others, but Paul’s letters indicate that this was the case in antiquity too. Cultures which from the outside seem monolithic are often far more complex than one might expect and that was also the case in the past.
During Lent, I need to consider how my behavior impacts people not just in the Church, but people outside the Church. How do I take thought of what is noble in the sight of all? How do I attempt to live peaceably with all? How do I behave properly to outsiders? What does it mean to mind my own affairs? How does what I say and do impact my friends who are atheists, Jews, Sikhs, Muslims? How do I provoke those who do not believe as I do to love and good deeds, as well as those who believe as I do? Some people might write Christians off as the result of past treatment or behavior; how do I provoke them to love? Some people are worried they are being judged unworthy by Christians; how do I provoke them to good deeds?
John W. Martens
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