Friday, September 22, 2017

Marketplace Ponderings - 4

I was giving a breakfast talk at a local church, after which we formed small groups to further discuss the material that I had presented. Much of my focus had been on our responsibility to serve our coworkers. One of the participants in the small group said, "My daily goal is to get to work, do my job, and get home without having interaction with coworkers. Interaction can lead to problems, and I don't need problems." While I have to admit that I was taken aback by the comment, I appreciated the person's honesty.

Considering the hectic pace of life, it isn't unusual for us to have days, or perhaps weeks, where we feel that we have accomplished something by simply making it through another day, or to another paycheck. Some of us may feel that we've done well just to have finished another year with some semblance of sanity or equilibrium.

Yet, our heavenly Father has called us to be sensitive to others, even in the midst of personal turmoil and uncertainty. One of the characteristics of our Father that Jesus shares with us is that, "He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." Matthew 5:45. The context of this verse is Christ's instruction that we should love and bless those who treat us badly. His point is that if our Father sends his sun and rain upon all people without discrimination, that we should also bless all people without discrimination. This includes our coworkers.

How can we be a blessing to our coworkers?

Prayer is a good place to start. Just as the sun and rain of our Father nourishes our planet, so our prayers can nourish the lives of our coworkers. As women and men whom have been called by God to a corporate priesthood, prayer for others is an integral part of our calling. Consider the fact that it is possible that you might be the only person who ever prays for a coworker, and that if you don't pray for her, then nobody will.

I have some friends who use an organizational chart as a prayer tool. I mentally walk through my firm's offices and stop at each desk and pray for the individual.

What should we pray for? Well, certainly that they will know Christ, and that if they already know him that they will grow in relationship with him. However, I also think that we ought to pray for other specific issues. Has there been a loss in the family? Is there a new baby? Is there unemployment or sickness in the family? Perhaps the person is going through a tough emotional time. Maybe there is loneliness.

Do we know our coworkers well enough to know how to pray specifically for them?

Praying for specifics helps us to be open to relational opportunities with others. When our hearts and minds are focused on others in prayer, the Holy Spirit can communicate to us concerning our relationships.

Thanksgiving for our coworkers is also important. The Scriptures teach us that we are to give thanks for all people, 1 Timothy 2:1. I have heard many a Christian share how giving thanks for a coworker has served to reduce tension and break down unseen barriers between individuals.

In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus teaches that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. We have a responsibility to live as salt and light in the marketplace. While our opportunities for expression will be different, depending on our gifts and environments, we can trust our Father that there will be opportunities, for we have a purpose and destiny in Him.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Reflections on Romans 4:1 - 5:11 (5)

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…” Romans 5:1.

Peace. What shall we make of this idea? Do we relate to moral peace? Spiritual peace? Do we fall into the trap of thinking that spiritual peace is a state of consciousness, or unconsciousness; of thinking that it is something that we can develop within ourselves? And what of moral peace? Do we look to ourselves to set our own moral standards? Do we numb ourselves with diversion or pleasure or drugs or with moral denial or with descending greater and greater immorality until we have lost all sense of moral righteousness?

Who needs peace with God if there is no God with whom to have peace, to whom to be reconciled? If all guilt is false guilt then the only one we need make peace with is ourselves.

When the church wants to make everyone feel better it does everyone a disservice, it masks sin the way narcotics can mask the pain of cancer; when the church wants everyone to feel good about themselves it blocks the way of repentance, the way of faith in Christ, the way of justification by faith, the way to peace with God.

At least in an immoral world there may still be a sense of immorality, but in our amoral world there is no sense of right or wrong, good or evil, sin or righteousness.

For those who have been convicted of their sin there is not only hope in Christ Jesus, there is assurance in Christ Jesus. When we believe as Abraham and David believed (Romans Chapter 4) we are justified by faith in Jesus Christ and we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Our lives become a story not about us, but about Jesus.

In Christ, when we look back at our sin with remorse and sorrow, we need not fear the wrath and judgement of God for we have peace with God - we have been reconciled to Him (2 Corinthians 5:17 - 21). This peace comes with the glory of God as a present experience and a future expectation (John 17:22; Romans 8:18); it is a glory that shines brighter and brighter as we journey toward that Great Day in Christ. There is a glory in justification that surpasses understanding, how can it be that God not only sees me as if I have never sinned, but also as if I have always kept His holy Law? I do not understand this, I do not understand the Cross, I do not understand the great Divine Transaction that took place on Calvary...but I have experienced it - it is true...and I exult in hope of the glory of God.

No matter how much guilt we may sense or may have sensed, no matter how desperately we may have sought peace with God, no matter how much we may have longed for forgiveness and cleansing, no matter how deeply we may have yearned for a relationship with God - there is One who desires these things far more than we can think or imagine, who desires them so deeply that He gave His Only Begotten Son so that we might experience, in that Son Jesus Christ, all of these things in an intimate relationship with Him. God desires us more than we desire Him. He desires forgiveness for us more than we desire forgiveness. He desires that we have peace with Him far more than we have desired peace with Him. Let us remember daily, let us remember throughout the great and wide and deep and high and wide the love of God for us much God loves us, how much he loves me, how much He loves you.

Can you imagine the depths of the Pacific ocean? Can you imagine is vastness? It is as a drop of water compared to the love that God has for you. Can you stretch yourself to imagine the solar system? A galaxy? Galaxies upon galaxies upon galaxies upon galaxies? They are as your own backyard compared to the love of God for you.

Yes indeed we can exult in the expectation and hope of the glory of God, for His glory, the glory of His love, the glory of His grace, the glory of God justifying sinners, of God sanctifying those who were once His enemies (and we all either are or were His enemies - make no mistake about this), this multifaceted glory He now shares with us as His sons and daughters in Jesus Christ - the Prince of Peace.

Are you living in the peace of God today? Is Romans 5:1-2 your story too? It can be, God wants it to be.

If it is your story then tell someone today so that it can be their story too.