Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Small Opportunities to Learn the Cross

A Note Before I start:
I realize I have not been posting much, but, WOW, we are having a great time in our new faith community. My current thinking on discipleship is around taking up our cross in the small things. As a community, we are meeting in church Monday, Wed, Thursday, and Sunday. These are very relaxed natural meetings of families, in homes, which involve our kids and are bearing great fruit. We all feel like we are closer than ever to having a culture that is heavenly and a wineskin that effectively teaches the ways of Jesus. Speaking of the ways of Jesus...

Small Opportunities to Learn the Cross
One of the big problems in learning discipleship is to miss the endless small opportunities to practice and learn the cross. We often expect something special and noticeable but the cross is first learned in a silent unnoticeable way.

Just this morning, I was car pooling with a friend and I was aware that I had not been practicing the cross with much intentionality this week. So I asked for an opportunity to learn from Christ. Immediately, I noticed how much we speak about other people in our work place. We are constantly complaining about people. To be aware of the insidious activity of “self”, we must have discernment. By simply becoming aware of the normal worldly talk and how it is harmful to other a whole new world of discipleship opens up to us. When this world is seen by us, we find we have to practice the cross all day. We are now practicing the cross for many hours every day. We will soon become quite proficient in the basic exercises of the cross. If we become aware that all talk that speaks poorly of another person or group of people is simply a violent activity of the flesh or the self, we will see before us a whole new world of walking in the Spirit, a way that is contrary to the desires of the flesh.

Here is a small matter or so it appears but, in reality, by holding ourselves to a standard of perfect love with our speech, we find an entire new way of life. If we say to ourselves that only speech that builds others up is acceptable, we find often 100 repetitions a day of denying ourselves and taking up our cross that we never saw before. If we now make it sinful speech to tear down another person, especially if they are not present, we will begin to notice how unclean our speech really is. We as Christians understand that we are not to curse. We are not foul mouthed, but what really is a curse? Is slang cursing or is complaining about another persons work ethic or reliability or character? We are cursing when we are not blessing a person. If that person was present would he or she feel blessed and built up or would he find the need to defend himself?

Our Lord has not taken us out of the world that we might be lights. It is in loving speech, perfectly loving speech, that blesses the good and the bad where we are given almost moment by moment opportunities to shine.


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