“God is not in a hurry or rushing you to transform every aspect of your life overnight.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – June 11, 2022
For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell. Acts 15:28-29, NKJV
Temperamentally, I’m a bit of an all or nothing type of person. If I set my mind to do something, I usually dive into the deep end and seek to take it on in its entirety. A garage filled with gently used sports gear only confirms this inclination. Rather than borrow a tennis racket from a friend to play a game or two and see if it sticks, I showed up on day one with all new gear, ready to look the part and take on the identity of a tennis player. Perhaps you can relate?
We often have a similar relationship to food and dieting. Rather than identifying one or two areas of potential improvement for better health and nutrition, we swing from one diet to the next, making radical changes that upend our entire relationship with food. Of course, these rarely last more than a week or two, with us quickly reverting to life as it was before.
In Acts 15, we encounter the chasm that existed between Jewish and Gentile culture. More specifically, how were Gentiles, whose lives and customs were wildly different than those of the Jewish world, meant to faithfully follow the way of Christ as his disciples? They longed for the whole of their lives to be conformed to his ways, yet confusion abounded on what that in practice looked like. Did they need to become Jewish in every way, taking on every aspect of Jewish identity and practice?
The Church in her wisdom followed the lead of the Holy Spirit and sought to create a way forward for these converts that gave them clarity in the essentials without overwhelming them to the point of exhaustion and despair. Over time, their stories would likely come to be more and more shaped by the story of Israel, learning the countless ways in which these people carried the covenant promises of God upon the earth. And yet, God is not in a hurry. And so they could be entirely at peace as beloved members of the family, focusing on just a few key areas that were essential – dietary, ritual, and sexual purity – and let the other details be sorted out over time as they lived in relationship and love with one another.
For many of us, though the details of our lives and cultures are quite different than what we see in Acts 15, there is a word of wisdom in this ancient story. At times, in our fervor and zeal we may treat our faith in Christ like a new sport or diet, taking on every possible aspect of Christian practice and culture. And yet, if our hearts and lives have not been trained in the way of Christ over time, we may just as quickly crash and burn in our faith, lacking the roots that will nourish a lifetime of faith.
And so, what are the two or three core practices of faith that you can cling to and cultivate wholeheartedly in your life with the Lord? If you are daily seeking to love God and your neighbor as yourself, can you give yourself grace and patience to not anxiously fret over the other areas of life that are begging for your attention? Again, remember that our Lord is not anxious or impatient with you, rushing you to transform every aspect of your life overnight. Instead, he is walking gently alongside you, celebrating your victories in faith, and slowly yet surely healing your soul and body, one day at a time.
Father, give us clarity in our own lives to see the areas of faith that you are calling us into, and give us the strength and courage to follow your lead, we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
What are the two or three core practices of faith that you can cling to and cultivate wholeheartedly in your life with the Lord?
Deuteronomy 5:33; Proverbs 3:5-6; Micah 6:8
Matt Maher: Garden
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