Thursday, June 2, 2011

The most difficult place to be a Christian

Daniel Vestal, executive director of the Cooperative Baptist Convention, tells of a time, several years ago, when he attended a conference where former Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield spoke. After his speech, there was a period of discussion. Someone asked the senator, "What is the greatest challenge you have as a Christian?"

Vestal remembers Hatfield’s response, “I was intrigued and surprised by his answer. Here is a man who served in the United States Senate with great power and prestige and made decisions that affected millions of people. He responded quickly, ‘My greatest challenge as a Christian is in my home.’”

In other words, Vestal comments, “If you want to know what kind of Christian I am, don't evaluate me on the platform, ask my wife, ask my children and ask my mother-in-law. The first place we build community is in our homes.”

Both Vestal and Hatfield are on to something. Our world is full of communities that require very little of us. We come in and out of people’s lives so quickly that we never have to give too much or sacrifice too deeply. At home, however, where these handful of people keep showing up over and over again, Christ’s commands become more daunting. Forgiving as often as is necessary, giving without expecting in return, and turning the other cheek can feel impossible with the people we are supposedly closest to. And yet, if Christ’s words don’t apply there, where do they apply?

Maybe our prayer everyday should begin with the simple plea, “Lord, help me the Christian you want me to be right here at home.”

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God – Ephesians 5:1.

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