Tuesday, October 6, 2015

October 6, 2015 - along the Way ...

Today we will discuss the final of the "deadly sins" and its accompanying virtue.    The last of the seven deadly sins is wrath or anger.

Anger comes from misdirected desire because it often involves a response to something I wanted or felt I deserved but did not receive.   It is my desire to be respected and valued, which is not bad in itself, but when misdirected can lead to a sense of entitlement.   I feel I am owed respect, and when I do not get it, I get angry.

For example, the one place I recognize this most in my life is when I am behind the wheel.   If someone pulls out in front of me or cuts me off, I feel anger rising up inside of me.   I can feel my blood pressure begin to increase, and my face becoming tense and turning red.   There is a negative biological reaction to anger, and it causes me undue stress.

Yet there is a remedy for wrath.  The accompanying virtue that I must ask God to cultivate in me is patience leading to forgiveness.   Patience means seeing the value in the other person and respecting them as I wish to be respected, so that I am able to set aside my sense of entitlement and let another have first place.  

Patience also leads to forgiveness when I choose to show love for the other person, and offer them the benefit of the doubt, extending forgiveness even as I have received forgiveness from God.

Jesus highlights this when He taught us how we should pray.   One of the petitions in the prayer Jesus taught us to pray is: "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors".   We ask God to help us offer forgiveness to others as freely as we have received forgiveness by believing God's promise met in Christ.

Recently, I have learned a concept taught by Jeff Vander Stelt to the Soma Communities of which he has been pastor.   The concept is called "Gospel Fluency" and it involves four key questions that will help us navigate any situation in a Christlike manner.

1) Who is God?  (Theology) - What does the Bible say about who God is and how does God's being
                                                 relate to my situation?
2) What has God done? (Soteriology - Doctrine of Salvation) - What has God done in Christ and  
                                                 throughout history that would shed light on this current situation?
3) Who am I?  (Ecclesiology) - It is important to reflect on our identity (both collective and
                                                individual) in Christ to determine its relevance for the current situation.
4)  What should I do? (Missiology) - The church does what it is, our identity in Christ (determined by
                                                Who God is, and What He has done) shapes what we do.   This will
                                                make knowing the right thing to do in every situation much clearer,
                                                since as God's children we are called to love others as God has loved us
                                                in Christ.   Thus in this situation that would mean offering forgiveness.

I hope these thoughts have been helpful for you.   I invite you to share your own challenges, and how God has taught you how your identity in Christ can shape what you do in each situation, as we journey together along the Way ...

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