Scripture:Ephesians 4:25-5:2, NRSV
Location: First preached at Grace Presbyterian Church of Ft. Worth, Florida
If we follow the teachings of Jesus, every experience in life can teach us something new.
I probably forget this fact every single day.
Because sometimes life can be utterly infuriating right? You can work really hard, you can try to do the right things and still, at times, it can all seem to go wrong.
And when it feels like it's all going wrong - we all respond differently. And most of the time that response comes from the same place: fear.
We are afraid of what the outcome may be or mean for us. And so we respond differently – some people cry, some people get angry, some people get depressed, some people procrastinate, some people work really hard, some people shut down, some people act out, some people get intoxicated in some form. Everyone, it seems, copes with these circumstances –whatever they are for him or her- in context, differently.
And I think that when this occurs – what is probably actually happening is that we are summoning our inner five- or six-year-old. Because when we are little we develop the ways that we are going to cope with problems in life based on the circumstances and the contexts that we face in our given context. When you are little it is pretty hard, if not quite impossible, to rationalize away your fear. You can’t really protect yourself. You can’t really fight back. You are almost completely vulnerable if someone else doesn’t intervene on your behalf. Your future is, quite literally, being defined for you in those formational moments.
I think deep down most of us understand this. It's why people get upset with the fact that our government, regardless of which administration is in charge, would be so cruel as to separate a child from their parent and put them in a cage. Because when that is done to a child – we are doing irreparable damage.
And – as a sidebar - for people whose responses are “well, that is just the law.” Then my response is “well then - it’s a bad one.” Children are fragile. And, at one point, all of us were once a child.
Children are also wonderful. They don’t have all of the junk yet. They are inquisitive and vulnerable and loving. Before they learn bad habits from us they are so genuinely kind and sweet.
I’m being serious when I say this but – when I pray for my three-year-old – and I pray for him often – often included in my prayers are “please God don’t let me screw him up.”
Because I know that I am screwed up – and I know that, like it or not, me being screwed up impacts him.
So is it any wonder why Paul says:
“Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Because, whether we like it or not – what we do affects other people.
Reality Changing Observations:
Q1. What are the kinds of things that happen in your life that cause you to behave the worst and why?
Q2. What do you think our responsibility is to care for children?
Q3. What do you think are the best qualities of children?
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