Thursday, July 28, 2011

Learning new questions to ask.

Yesterday, a friend of mine posted this quote on his blog:

“To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell” (Thomas Merton in No Man is an Island).
Ouch! I have to admit, I hang out on that doorstep way too often. When I meet a new person, when someone proposes a new idea, when the temperature stays above 100 degrees for far too many days in a row, my natural response is to contemplate only how I am affected. The questions that normally run through my head focus on . . . well . . . me:

     What is this going to cost me?

          How much of my time is this wasting?

               What is this keeping me from doing that I want to be doing?

How different such thoughts are from the way of Christ who considered people and situations only in light of his mission of reconciliation. Paul, contemplating Christ’s willingness to pay any price for us, writes, “He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view” (1 Cor 5:15-16). That is, we view no one (and we might add, no situation) solely in the light of their effect upon us. We no longer live for ourselves, but for Christ. He is to be the filter through which we view the people and the circumstances in our lives.

To live this way, we need new questions as we approach each new circumstance in our lives:

     How can I live for Christ in this situation?

          How might God be redeeming this moment for his glory?

               How does God view the person in front of me? How then should I?

If you’ve lived on the doorstep of self-absorption as long as I have, it’s difficult to imagine another way of living. But it is possible to change. Not on our own, granted, but God is at work in us. The Bible promises: “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (1 Cor 5:17-18).

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