“Our life in Christ is incomplete if it does not birth within us an unshakable love for those who are different than us.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – January 21, 2021
In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Ephesians 3:5-6 (NRSV)
Every January, I am mindful of the way in which our resolutions this time of year have the ability to turn us inward, singularly concerned with our own well-being and personal improvement. We join a gym, start a new diet, or even in the name of Christ, take on a “Bible in a year” plan and resolve to read a classic of Christian spirituality. And yet, if we are not careful, this interior renewal will fail to break forth into the exteriority of our lives. Renovation begins within the heart, yet it is undoubtedly meant to transform our families, church relationships, and societal structures.
As I reflect upon this theme, I am aware of this fact: my life in Christ is incomplete if it does not birth within me an unshakable love for those who are different than me. During the Christmas and Epiphany seasons, we celebrate Jesus Christ, born a devout Jew, who is celebrated as the “light to the Gentiles” (Isaiah 49:6). Our cultural separation from the ancient world keeps us from immediately feeling the shock and disorientation of these words.
Do you think St. Paul was surprised by some of the things he said? Paul, by his own self-description, was “a Hebrew born of Hebrews” (Philippians 3:5). And yet, here in today’s reading he professes, without even a hint of bitterness or resentment, that “the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6).
If the gospel isn’t life giving and liberating for your neighbor, it isn’t good news. And as Paul reminds us, “neighborliness” is radically reframed and reoriented in light of Christ. No longer is my neighbor simply those who agree with me – who vote as I vote, shop where I shop, or speak as I speak – but is my fellow human and image bearer of God, regardless of one’s education, wealth, or personal power.
In short, the condescension of Christ frees us to take the seat of humility with joy and gratitude in our hearts. Every human interaction is an invitation into growth, to expand your view of the world and your place within it. Look up. Look out. Do not miss it.
Father, as we encounter the life of your Spirit within, give us eyes to see how we can participate in your renewing work in the world, we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
How can you show the love of Christ today to someone that you normally wouldn’t consider your neighbor?
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