Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Thought for Wednesday 6/26/13

“The whole Law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’.  If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.”  Galatians 5:14-15

Self-loathing is an attribute that can consume the whole person and will soon poison other relationships; and because such a low opinion of one’s self worth is so deeply engrained into one’s psyche, it is virtually impossible to have any sort of care or concern for anyone else.  This anger toward self cannot help but to be expressed toward others in our lives, and we ultimately do at least as much harm to ourselves as we attempt to inflict on others.  Though St. Paul was no psychologist, I think there is a lot of self-awareness in this statement as well as a profound appreciation for human and social behavior because in addition to the harm we do to ourselves, we can expect others to do as much harm when we by our own hatred and anger and contempt invite others to “strike back” when they have been hurt.

It is a maddening and destructive cycle that exists even among the people of the Church – and incidentally, St. Paul is addressing the churches in Galatia, so it is clearly not a new phenomenon.  It does, however, beg a question: among the many who claim to have been “saved” (assuming an understanding of having been “saved” from past sins), how can such behavior exist in the Body of Christ, the Church, presumably the community of the “saved”?  Could it be that too many among the “saved” are simply trying to convince themselves that their problems are over – only to discover that in discipleship problems that once existed really do not go away?  That these problems will still have to be confronted, only now as a member of the community of faith it does not have to be done alone? 

Do we have such unrealistic expectations that once we discover the world does not change even as our relationship with the Lord of the Church begins to change, we then lash out angrily when our personal expectations have not been met?  This is why discipling new believers is probably the single most important task the Church can undertake; making sure these new believers (and new church members) are reminded of their important place in the community, of their worth to the community, and keeping new believers’ feet planted firmly on the ground.  It is not enough to simply come to the altar and call it “good” or “done” (the one-and-done I referred to in last Sunday’s sermon)!  There is at least as much work to be done afterward than before the confession takes place!

If we are truly in the Spirit of the Lord, we are compelled to these means of grace and structures of mutual support so that rather than try to tear each other to pieces, we will do much better for ourselves, our neighbors, our Lord, and His Church to build one another up; especially to remind even those who do not think too highly of themselves that they are loved and have sacred value.  This, dear friends, is the very lifeblood of the Holy Church.



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