Thursday, October 12, 2006

Memorizing Colossians 3

The challenge last week from my Spiritual Formation class was to pick a passage and begin memorizing it. NOT picking a bunch of great verses in a little packet (although that does have its place in my life!) but a whole section of the Word. The choices included Romans 5, 7 or 8 or Colossians 3. Who are you kidding? Romans vs. Colossians? No contest. I'm memorizing Colossians 3!

It's been refreshing to sit and steep myself in one chapter. Not for the purposes of making observations and crafting questions to interpret, but just to read it and learn it in its entirety. I'm making slow progress in actual memorization, but I'm trying to take it carefully and slowly. I want this in long-term storage, not a quick fix.

As I read over the passage, I keep getting drawn to the second paragraph (vv. 5-11). As a woman, I love to jump to the end of the paragraph because of the declaration of unity and inclusivity I read there. But I have to go back and read carefully again and again, because of the things that are specifically NOT included in that Spirit of unity and inclusiveness. Things like sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed are listed in verse 6. And verse 8 tells me to get rid of anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language. How often do I pass over the "don'ts" because I am so happy with the "do's"? How can I justify not saying something to a fellow believer who insists on living in adultery? Or who won't clean up their dress, their job ethics or their speech? How can I excuse myself for my "little indiscretions" when God calls them practices of the "old self?"

No, I remain silent because I am afraid. I want to be seen as having put on that "new self," clothed in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. I want to speak the Word of Christ that teaches and admonishes. I want to put on LOVE - and exude it through my words and my actions. I do not want to join the ranks of the finger-pointing and self-righteous on the airwaves, pounding pulpits, or in blogs everywhere. (Geesh. They get enough press.) Besides, I mess up plenty and am not perfect. If you were to go find everyone in my past, they would have plenty of stories. I am not proud of who I was, but then again, I don't pretend to be someone I am not!

However, of late it seems to me that I have too much ignored the gentle, challenging words of the Apostle Paul. Whether it is PC or not, and with apologies to my fellow sisters and brothers who are more liberal in their theology, I have to say it: sexual activity outside of God's intended boundary of marriage is sin. It's called adultery. I didn't make it up. I didn't write the Law. In fairness to the other Commandments, it isn't any worse to disobey this one than it is to disobey the other Nine! It's not like you're a SUPER SINNER and need more forgiveness than if your favorite disobedience is adultery, instead of one of the other "shalt not's."

No... God calls all of us to put to death all those things of our "earthly nature." Those are all suuposed to be in the "used to do" category. Does it mean that we won't sin again? That we'll never struggle with our favorite sin/s? On the other hand, does it mean we have an excuse? ("It's just my earthly nature, Lord... You understand, don't You?")

It isn't easy. It's not a canned thing, with robotic brain cells magically following into the Land of Perfect Obedience. (As if...) But we do have a Savior who understands.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

Lord, I look to You... I cling to You. I believe that because of Your life intersecting in mine, I can change. I will stumble again. But I am changing...little by little by little... Thank You for the many times You forgive, and the unending ways Your mercy transforms my life... Amen.
The words of Kathryn Scott express it so well...

Hungry, I come to you, for I know you satisfy.
I am empty, but I know Your love does not run dry.
And so I wait for You, So I wait for You.

I’m falling on my knees, offering all of me.
Jesus, you’re all this heart is living for.

Broken, I run to You, for Your arms are open wide.
I am weary, but I know Your touch restores my life.
And so I wait for You, so I wait for You... I wait for You...

© 1999 Vineyard Songs (Administered by Mercy / Vineyard Publishing).
From our home to yours,

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