What Are We to Do?
The level of hope and anticipation related to the beginning of a New Year have probably never been higher than they currently are. Let’s face it, last year was difficult and painful in many ways. Surely the new year has nothing but good waiting for us. Yet, in many ways, the beginning of a new year is much like turning the page in a book. It represents a new chapter in the ongoing story. What transpires is based on what has gone before and sets the stage for what is yet to come.
It did not take long for us to realize that there were lingering challenges that would surface again, revealing the brokenness and fragility of humanity. Against this backdrop there are many questions raised for us as Christ followers . Some with long, complicated answers. Others with no apparent answers at all, let alone easy ones. How are we, as followers of Christ, to respond to the events taking place in our nation and our world? Is there a right balance between rage and apathy, love and hate? Judgement and forgiveness? It seems that the midsection between the extremes is shrinking more every day, causing explosive responses at the point of intersection.
As I struggle to gain my own answers to these questions, I am drawn to the words of Paul, in Philippians chapters 1 and 2. In these verses, Paul shares some admonitions based on his own experiences of persecution and loss.
“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.” The New International Version. (2011). (Php 1:27–28). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” The New International Version. (2011). (Php 2:1–5). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
In his second letter to his young prodigy, Timothy, Paul writes:
"Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” The New International Version. (2011). (2 Ti 2:22–26). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Even now, I do not fully have an answer to what my (our) response should be. However, I am convinced that these admonitions from Paul must be the structure and support upon which any Christ follower must develop their action, and reaction. Having the mind of Christ, seeking to live at peace, considering the good of others and the glory of God. Perhaps there is hope for a new day, after all.