Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Remember who you are.
When I was a boy of 8 years of age I became a PK. For those of you who don’t know that is what pastor’s kids call themselves. 8 years later I was a teenager and my father had been pastoring his second church for about 4 years. I had made several friends at that church that I enjoyed working and hanging out with whenever possible. That particular church was in a small farming community on the plains of western New York state just a handful of miles from the shore of Lake Ontario. Thankfully that little village had been founded almost equidistance from the cities of Rochester and Buffalo. As a small town that had seen its better days, other than staring at the Erie Canal that meandered through the center of town, there was literally nothing teenage boys would care to do there on a Friday or Saturday evening after a long week of school and work on the farm. That prohibitive situation left us with the choice of being confined to boredom, or gassing up one of our cars and piling in to go to the city where we would be met with multiple restaurants (though we almost always frequented the same ones) movie theaters, bowling allies or other “wild activities” that seem like mild fun in hindsight. Many weekend evenings I would get ready to “go out” and wait for my buddies to show up so we could make a break for a night out on the town.
My parents required that all of the passengers of the particular car we would be riding in come in to the house for a few minutes before we headed out for that evenings anticipated fun. Looking back through the lens of parenthood I imagine they did that for several reasons. They probably wanted to see that there were not too many passengers for the selected vehicle for the trip, they also likely wanted to know just which characters I would be with that night so they could anticipate how much “fun” we might be planning to have. Without fail, as we would to leave the house to pile into that four wheeled transport to fun and freedom I would hear my father’s voice catching me as I walked out the door, “Don’t forget who you are son.” I hated hearing that! I value that he said it…now. At the time…not so much. It was good enough advice that I found myself recycling it and admonishing my children as teens to keep the same thing in mind.
This morning as I was reading in God’s word I recognized it there too in Ephesians 3:20-4:6 There we read the Holy Spirit inspired words Paul wrote to the Ephesians. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
This scripture points out that it is in the power of Christ that the situations we are faced with each and every day can have outcomes far better than we could ever ask for. But if we want to see amazing, mind-boggling results there are some things we also must do…namely, remember who we are. Yes, the power to make all the difference comes from the One who works in us, but the fact that Christ lives and works in us should have some side effects that are displayed in how we act. It will not always be easy for those “side effects” to show through and Paul gently reminded the Ephesians that he understood that well. He did that by mentioning that he was in chains, a prisoner of the Lord. He recognized, and did not spare them the knowledge that there is a cost to following Jesus. The same is true for us. We may not be imprisoned as Paul was, but sometimes there is a cost associated with allowing others to know we follow Christ.
So what should be happening when we remember who we are? For starters humility should be what people see when they see us. I have said it before humility is the currency in the economy of the kingdom of God. If we want others to see the return on Christ’s investment in our lives, humility must be evident. Gentleness and longsuffering or being long-tempered are continuations of that lowliness or humility. These are the attributes of that all-important character quality that prove its genuineness. False humility is never able to endure the test of time with patience.
So why is it so important that we remember who we are and bear with one another in love? So our true colors of unity can be seen. In this day and age unity is a rare thing. In many cases we are even being encouraged to separate ourselves from one another. The world around us wants us to separate ourselves by political affiliation, social status, religious denominations, gender and after 60 years of telling us otherwise, now we are even to separate ourselves by race. As Christ followers however, that is not our calling. Our pursuit is to be for unity. Paul points out how that is possible. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
In the garden on the night before His crucifixion Jesus prayed this unity would be the outcome of what He was about to do. John 17:20-23 I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
We can look at times like we currently live in and ask “What in the world is going on?” or we can recognize that this is a time when we have an amazing opportunity. The world wants to have us all take our respective sides; Christ calls us to unity in Him. Our love for one another and the world around us and our unity in Christ has never had a better chance to stand out than it does right now. Instead of complaining about it, let’s be excited that we live in a time when the light is able to shine so brightly.
So now, as you go in and out, as you interact with your brothers and sisters in Christ and with the world around you…Remember who you are…and go be awesome!