A New Year

– Pastor Brandon’s article from the January 2016 Newsletter

It’s January 2016, and I’m ready for summer!  No, not summer 2016, but summer 2015.  I just can’t wrap my mind around how fast time is flying by.  For some reason, I always feel like I’m a season or two behind.  Nevertheless, it is January 2016, and I’m turning my attention to plans for the coming year.  I’m trying to keep track of all the events that are already on the calendar, and I’m dreaming about what I would like to do both in my personal life and in the work the Lord is calling me to here in this community.  But, as I think about  all the of the things that I need and want to do, I don’t want to lose track of who God is calling me to  be.  I often focus on the external world, my to-do lists, and getting stuff done, but God is just as concerned about the type of person I am becoming and developing his character in me.

Take a look at what Paul says as he writes to the Ephesian church from prison:

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism;  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  (Ephesians 4:1-6)

In this passage, Paul is encouraging unity in the body of Christ.  He urges the believers to live a life worthy of their calling.  Literally, he says “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you were called.”  The imagery of walking is a frequent metaphor for life in the New Testament.  The idea is that we are all on a spiritual journey, and we are challenged to go about life in a way that honors the God who saves us.

Notice that “living a life worthy” isn’t necessarily about doing particular tasks, but about our attitudes and motives.  While what we do is important, we must also pay attention to how we do it.  As we walk through life, we are called to be humble, gentle, patient, loving, and peaceful.  All of these virtues overlap in some way, but let’s take a look at each individually.

Humility is about acknowledging my own limitations and failures.  I am not perfect, but I am a  sinner saved by grace.  Remembering this helps me to show grace to others when they fail.

Gentleness describes someone who is not overly impressed by a sense of self-importance. It is not weakness.  It involves courtesy, considerateness, and strength under control.

Patience involves remaining calm while waiting and bearing up under provocation.  Believe it or not, the world does not actually revolve around me, and I can put the needs and wants of others before my own.  Even though others may attempt to push my buttons, I don’t have to respond in kind.

Love is the act of giving of yourself for the good of others.  Let’s be honest: I can be difficult sometimes and so can you.  When we bear with one another and forgive one another during those times, we show authentic love.

Peace describes a state of well-being and a lack of hostility.  It not about avoiding conflict but resolving it.  Living in this kind of unity honors our Lord.

So, as we begin this new year, make your plans based on the calling you have received from God.  Take time to reflect on what God is calling you to do and who God is calling you to be. Ask him to show you how you’re doing in all these areas of your life and allow him to help you grow.  May he bless you as you seek him this year.