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  • "A Musing Pastor"

When your faith is lit.

I remember the day a Jack Russell Terrier was jumping 4-5 feet in the air to see who was outside its door. I was grateful the people I visited that day had no doggie door. The dog was not acting happy to see me but more like a dog preparing to defend its house and owners. I have been able to develop an acute sense about animals. Growing up on a farm, honed my skills for reading body language and aggressive natures in animals. This animal was not sending me any warm fuzzy feelings.

Long story short, the owners put their dog in a kennel and allowed me into the house. I delivered the equipment and the whole time I was training them on how to use their machine, the dog barked and growled and pushed against the door. I was a bit unnerved. They were forthcoming in admitting their dog had bitten others and would bite me too. I know this to be true because their 8 year old grandson was standing in the room with a wound on his face from this dog.

Later, when the person had succumbed to his illness, I had to return to collect the equipment and the episode played out all over again. Now the dog seemed to think I was responsible for its master's absence. It was good to collect the machine and be on my way.

The opposite experience occurred for me many times too. Pets would welcome me into their home with warmth and excitement. These visits were so much more enjoyable and training the person to use their equipment went well.

What kind of dog are you? When somebody approaches, do you send a signal of warmth and welcome or do you send signals of ill intent? It is a fair question considering we Christians are to be influencing the world for Jesus Christ.

Just the other night, I left the church and turned on my new heated hoodie. It is such a neat coat especially on cold days and nights. When you press the button a soft glowing light comes on to let one know the coat is operating. It is pretty cool. Except when another person has never seen one.

I stopped at the local grocery and picked up a few things and as I checked out, one of the regular cashiers was packing my items and eyeing me suspiciously. As I paid my bill and moved toward this young man, he stepped back slightly and said, "Wwwhy iis your coat glowing??" The look on his face probably looked like mine the day the dog was jumping 4-5 feet into the air. Apprehensive.

I stopped and explained the coat was a heated hoodie and the light simply lets me know when it's on. With that explanation, he moved toward me and said, "Cool, that is a really good idea." We exchanged a few more pleasantries and parted company. Reducing his anxiety about my coat seemed like a simple thing, but for him it was a brand new level of trust.

The state of our world right now is unprecedented. Distrust, anger, fear, hate, and a hundred other ailments are running rampant. A glance can become the impetus for an all out fight. An ill-timed comment leads to bitter disputes and friends lost. Something has to give. Will I be the one to diffuse a situation with grace or will the other party be the one? What if conflicting parties would stop resisting and decide to come together in mutual discussion? Sounds like a pipe dream I'm sure.

It doesn't have to be so. It's all about presentation. If we are to influence the world for Jesus Christ it will be done so through a spirit of holiness and peace. Set aside our need to win an argument and listen intently to the other. A faith that is lit will always seek justice, truth, and a peaceful way forward. Even when that assertion seems to fail and persecution falls on our heads, we must count it a joy, a badge of honor, and a part of our faith.

"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21, NIV)

These biblical instructions for Christian living that require us to be nice to our enemies are some of the most distasteful yet some of the most necessary ones for us to consume. These difficult passages will light our faith and make it burn brightly in a world being devoured by darkness.

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