Pastor’s Blog – A Guide for the February 17th Worship Service

Scripture for This Week: Psalm 1

Scripture for Next Week:  Luke 6:27-38

 

Positivity is the way that leads to life.  You can quote me on that.  I coined it, so, take it for what it is worth!  I may have created that little proverb for this blog post, but it is the result of 51 years of trying to understand what it means to be alive.  I have followed my own ways.  I have followed the ways of people I later discovered to be wicked.  I created some fairly wicked ways all by myself.  Little incentive was needed.  Those attitudes and behaviors led to some very miserable years, so I can speak with assurance that the path out of hell on earth is the way of Jesus.  However….

Yes, there is a “however.”  It is the however that far too many people who define themselves as Christians have yet to understand.  It is a however that Psalm 1 exemplifies.  Here is the definition of that “however.”  It does no good to call people out for their negative behaviors.  They won’t listen.  Even if they know you are right, they won’t listen.  People only change when they can no longer stand the pain of the life they are living.  Period.  That, by the way, is another one of my proverbs.  A proverb I have learned by experiencing the futility of trying to change people.  Feel free to share it!

What is the alternative?  What do we do if people won’t pay attention when we call out their bad behavior?  What do we do when yelling at the miscreants does no good?  What do we do with the frustration when people we love ignore what is so obviously the true, the good, and the beautiful?  We invite people into a different way of living.  We model a countercultural way of life.  We live a life deeply connected to God.  This is the meaning of Psalm 1.

When we take the negativity out of our lives, what remains is the presence of God.  Let’s take the all the negativity out of psalm 1 and this will be the word of God for us today:

“Happy are those whose delight is the law of the Lord, and on God’s law they meditate day and night.  They are like trees planted by the streams of water, which yield fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.  In all that they do they prosper.  For the Lord watches over the ways of the righteous.”

Instead of calling out other people for their bad behavior, the happy person of God focusses on the law or word of God.  The happy person from the psalm meditates on God’s law or word day and night.  The Apostle Paul calls this praying without ceasing.  This person prospers in whatever they do.  How can that be so?  Perhaps it is because they do what they sense God calling them to do.  They have aligned their lives with the Way of God and are focusing on what God is calling them to do instead of calling out the negative behavior of those around them.

Rethinking how we respond to negative behavior is a subject upon which Christians need to do some meditating.  I have a friend who is very angry about recent changes in abortion laws.  I suggested that perhaps he could get involved with organizations that help girls who are pregnant so that they are given the love and care they need to keep their babies.  The response was not positive.  The news feeds are filled with Christians railing against the bad behavior of others.  “Create new laws to protect our communities,” they cry.  What if the energy spent on calling out the behavior of others and creating new laws was spent on getting hands dirty helping to change the systems that lead to the bad behaviors in the first place?

I just offered global suggestions, but we all can practice this behavior in our own homes as well.  What if instead of yelling at our children to behave from across the room, we got up, walked over to them, and calmly discussed the situation?  Even more importantly, if our spouse does something that really irritates us, instead of yelling in front of other family members, what if we calmly explained how their behavior makes us feel?  What if we then made every effort to understand how our behavior makes the rest of our family members feel?

Now let’s think about positive behaviors we could exemplify instead of dwelling on the negative behavior of others.  This shift in behavior is a real challenge.  It takes significant effort and a great amount of humility.  In my own experience, this shift in behavior is only possible when we begin to meditate upon the presence of God.  At first it may be a few minutes a day but if we make the effort to spend more and more time practicing the presence of God in every moment, it slowly becomes easier to live positively.

Here are a few questions to consider this week:

  • Out of all of your waking hours a week, what percentage are you giving to meditating on the word of God?
  • What steps can you take to recognize when you are fixated on the behaviors of others, and then make the attempt to refocus your personal efforts to model Christian behavior?
  • Who are you serving?
  • Who is God asking you to serve?

It is in serving others that we move the focus from ourselves and see the world through their eyes, and those in need will only know we care when they can see our eyes.  That is how we can live positively, and that is also my final proverb of the day!

May you be filled with Christ’s Peace,

Pastor Eric