Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Set Your Hope on Christ by Renee Fisher

Ephesians 1:3-4 (from NRSV) : Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.
Have you ever had to say you’re sorry when you really didn’t feel like you had done anything wrong?  Did you say you were sorry anyway?  If you did, why did you?  If you did not, what would it have cost you if you had? 
Have you ever later come to see the issue from the other person’s perspective and then understood how they could have come to the conclusions they did, why they might have been hurt or frustrated?  Did you say you were sorry then?
I have worked in retail customer support for more than 2 years at my current job.  Before that my husband and I had our own business and before that I worked for more than a decade for a debt collection company.  In that time, I have had to say “I’m sorry” many times for problems I did not cause, for mistakes others made, even for blunders the customers themselves have made.  But, I have learned it doesn’t hurt to say you’re sorry, even for things you KNOW you didn’t do, for problems you KNOW you didn’t cause.  You may think this is because I don’t really feel sorry, that I don’t mean it when I say it.  But the truth is, I do mean it.  Every time.  I AM sorry.  I’m sorry they are hurt, or frustrated, or in pain.  I’m sorry I can’t fix it.  I’m sorry for whatever part I have played in it.  I am sorry. And I say so.
This doesn’t mean I have no regrets and I’m always the one to say I’m sorry first.  I have as much self-righteous anger as anyone else.  The personal problems and pains, where I HAVE played a part, those are much harder.  Whether I have been the receiver or the giver of pain, frustration, anger, it is much harder to come to peaceful resolution when the issues are near and dear to my heart.  But the reality is, if I could have the same ease and willingness to say I’m sorry for my part in whatever the situation, the sooner peace will be in my relationships.  When my heart is hardened, there is no peace.  Not because I have all the power over all my relationships.  When my heart is hardened, there is no peace for me.  I have no control over the other person.  They could be going along happily in their lives, not giving one more minute of thought to my regret, my pain, or my frustration.  I keep the pain alive if I’m not willing to let go of it.
I think is what this scripture is about.  This scripture is a blessing and even a prescription for our lives. 
Our amazing God has given us life, the very breath in our bodies.  God has given us the beauty of creation around us, but most important, God has given us love.  From the gift of love, all other gifts come, all of the Fruits of the Spirit: joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  All of these come from love.  Every Spiritual Blessing is from the “heavenly places.”
The writer of the scripture reminds us we have the answers.  We know them and we only have to live them.
God blessed us with Christ’s teachings of love and forgiveness.  Christ taught us God’s love is as boundless as the wind, as caring as the Samaritan, as forgiving as the Prodigal son’s father.  And through Christ’s example, we, too, can understand God’s love and experience the “heavenly places.”  We can understand heaven through love, through our willingness to repent, to forgive, to give up our own comfort for the comfort of another.  To the extent we can give of ourselves, we can understand God’s love for us.  And when we do this, when we love in such a way, then we will experience Heaven on this earth.  We can experience joy, peace, hope, kindness, and all the other fruits of God’s love.  If we but open our hearts, become who God calls us to be, then all of heaven will be ours.  The Kingdom of God will be in our midst. 
Love is the answer to all the pain and misery in the world.  Love is the answer to hate, to war.  Love is the heaven that we seek when we look to life after death.  Love is the place where we experience God.  Open your heart, right here, right now.  Experience God’s heaven.  Live in God’s Love.