What Are You Facing?
School students know that exams are coming. Patients with procedures scheduled know that surgery is coming. Those privileged to live in places with lawns know that the need to mow is coming. Those choosing to downsize or relocate know a move is coming. And we all hope warmer weather is coming. But can we know everything we will face as this day slides into tomorrow and as April disappears into May?
Of course we can't. There's much we plan and some space we leave open. There's a good bit we can anticipate but even that is something of an unknown. What will it be like to grow older? Where might we wind up if the children have their way? How could our independence be compromised? With whom might we have an irreparable falling out?
Among the aspects of our lives we have some say in are the choices we make regarding authority. Whose word is "law" for us? Whose opinion matters most? Whose advice will we always heed? And even more basically - will we be a compliant or defiant person in the world? Will we regard others with respect or disgust? What manner of manners will we carry on with as we go from one day to another? If someone were to get up in our face, how would we respond? And do we ever feel the urge to do the same with someone we care about, or because of something we are passionate about?
It can be a major sticky wicket for us, can't it? How much do we assert ourselves and to what extent do we seek to get along? Do we try to avoid confrontation of any kind at all times or do we "speak the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15) even when the truth hurts? And do we hope to influence the opinions or stances of others or grant them a wide berth to formulate their own? Especially in matters of faith, what manner of manners will we carry on with as we face one person after another?
It's a dangerous gift Jesus gives his followers. His life. His power. His Spirit. After being raised from the dead, he met with his first disciples and breathed his resurrection all over them. And he told them essentially that their forgiveness of others was equal to his. Can we face up to that prospect? No wonder Robert Capon bluntly said that "the church is not in the morals business. The world is in the morals business, quite rightfully; and it has done a fine job of it, all things considered. What the world cannot get right, however, is the forgiveness business - and that, of course, if the church's real job. She is in the world to deal with the sin that the world can't turn off or escape from. She is not in the business of telling the world what's right and wrong so that it can do good and avoid evil." [Hunting the Divine Fox].
Oh, but how much tidier life would be if we all had a universal guide for responding to every person we come face to face with in a perfectly appropriate way! Peter and his team of evangelists might have escaped a hefty flogging if he had only buttoned his piehole before the authorities instead of blurting out the need to obstinately obey God! We who follow a risen Lord cannot always know what or whom we'll be facing from one day to the next. But we've been given an extraordinary gift in his resurrection life. Now then, with what manner of manners will we carry it as we make our way in this world?