How Do We Move Forward?

In this episode:

How do we move forward in a culture where we disagree, where we are deeply discouraged, and where tension is off the charts? We have choice in how we contribute to conversations and in how we adjust our own attitudes. Also, you don't want to miss this week's resource that asks the question: what if Jesus was serious in what he taught?


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Inspired Life

What renovating are were going to need to work on in the coming months?

I recorded this episode on the night before the election because I didn't want my words tainted by any results. Stay with me. This is NOT about politics or about the election. Are you sick of that too? What I’m going to talk about today is the way we repurpose and renovate after things get ugly. How we move forward from something that has a lot of tension involved.

No matter how we look at it, this year has been one of struggle, challenges, situations that make us question humanity, circumstances that break down. Messed up situations.

And the reason this is on my mind when I write this is that I don’t think election day is going to be our most beautiful day. So when Thursday comes and this episode airs, I want to be prepared with a plan to move forward. I don’t know if the person I voted for will win the election. I don’t know if the people I know will be happy about the candidate the wins. Will family holidays be tainted yet by conversations laced with venom and harsh words? Or will they be sweetened by kindness and love, filled with patience, and abundant with grace?

I don’t know.

And because I don’t know the outcome of the election, I can’t slant this episode in any way to sound as if I’m talking at my listeners. I’m doing this to remind myself of what it means to live out Colossians 4:6: Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.

Some days I want to melt into a puddle of tears because my heart breaks for how it must be for people who are teetering in their faith to observe people who carry the name of Christian and who don’t speak like Christ would. If there are doubts about God’s love and grace, the behavior of his kids aren’t going to help to ease those doubts.

Saying ugly things or spewing hate in the name of Jesus is like dressing up in a stage costume and pretending to love Jesus. That’s why he called some of the religious people hypocrites – play actors. Merriam-Webster says the word hypocrite ultimately came into English from the Greek word hypokrites, which means “an actor” or “a stage player.

I would know, because I’ve been one. I'm in the process of shedding that identity. Peeling off the costume is painful. Looking in the mirror without it can be nauseating. We can’t go back and change. But we can move forward.

Life, Repurposed

I mentioned that passage from Colossians 4. Let's look at several principles that come right from the Bible that can help us move forward.

  1. Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

Why is this important? The outcome of an election doesn’t take away our ability to be grateful. It doesn’t remove the need to be alert to the needs around us or the ways we could get drawn into something that is far from truth.

An alert mind means stopping to think for ourselves, even if it goes against the popular thread of thought around us. It might be lonely there, but it’s how we move forward. I’ve changed me point of view on a lot of big issues over the years because I listened and learned more.

  1. Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity.

Let’s talk about what it means to not be a believer. It’s simply the way to describe people who don’t believe in Jesus. I’m a believer. Some of my friends are not. We can live respectfully together. There was a time when I thought living wisely meant I had to shower someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus with my pompous wisdom. And making the most of every opportunity meant preaching and cramming some truth down their throat. But I see this differently now.

Living wisely to me means conducting myself in a way that doesn’t ruin Jesus’s reputation and make his followers look like a bunch of jerks. Making the most of every opportunity means keeping my mouth closed and my heart open so I can hear what the needs of others are and truly understand what they’re wrestling with. And to not lose an opportunity to show them what it means to be kind and courteous.

Arguing is not a good use of time.

Gloating is an opportunity wasted.

You get the idea.

  1. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.

Gracious and attractive. Do you know some people who are just easy to be around? I admit that when I get impatient, I’m not gracious. I fire off email replies that are dismissive and curt. It takes practice to not participate in conversations that do no good. Having the right response for everyone might include silence sometimes.

If we commit to move forward out of an ugly mess of anger and quarreling, we can expect some additional conflict. It might not be popular. Based on our past history, some people might not trust us. It’s going to take self-reflection and awareness. As we close, here are some thoughts we can ask ourselves:

  • Is there anything in what I have recently said that I’d be embarrassed to say in front of Jesus?
  • Is there any bitterness in my heart?
  • Have I sought God to see what he thinks of the condition of my thoughts?
  • Am I willing to do whatever it takes to renovate my attitude?
  • Have I released blaming others for my problems?
  • How did Jesus treat his enemies, and have I done the same?

Recommended Resources

For a resource this week, I want to feature a little devotional book by Skye Jethani called What If Jesus Was Serious?: A Visual Guide to the Teachings of Jesus We Love to Ignore.

This book is based on Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount and includes little doodles from Skye throughout. It's creative and thoughtfully done.

Daily Devotions for People Who Hate Daily Devotions

Let's face it. A lot of Christian resources can feel cheesy, out-of-touch, and a little boring. But when Skye Jethani started doodling and writing up some of his thoughts about God, his Twitter and email list blew up. What If Jesus Was Serious? is a compilation of all-new reflections (and hand-drawn doodles) from Skye. He takes a look at some of Jesus' most demanding teachings in the Sermon on the Mount and pushes us to ask whether we're really hearing what Christ is saying. The visual component of the book makes it memorable and enjoyable to read, and Skye's incisive reflections make it worthwhile for any Christian. If you've traditionally been dissatisfied with Christian devotional resources but love to learn about Jesus and think deeply, this book was written for you.

The book talks about loving our neighbors, promoting peace, meeting people’s needs and much more. It's a great resource if you're looking for something to help you grow spiritually, something that makes you think, a daily devotional to read.

 


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(Please note: books posted here on my blog are purely because I want to share them. Sometimes I receive free copies for review, and other times I purchase the books. Some I get from the library. Either way, any endorsement I offer here on the blog is simply because I want to talk about the book. )

Michelle Rayburn is the author of The Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure, as well as a small group Bible study to accompany the book. Learn more about these and her other books here. A sample chapter of the book and Bible study are available for free download.

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This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. I sell my ebook via Amazon but I’m also a part of their “Associates” (i.e. affiliate) program which pays a commission on books and any other Amazon products people purchase via my links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Posted in Articles, Books & Resources, Faith and Inspiration, Podcast Episodes.