Daily Devotions

No Exceptions?!

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“Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)

 

Thank goodness we have God’s grace and mercy on which to rely. If I have to “be subject” to the person who cuts me off on Hickman Rd, because he/she is too busy texting, then I am in real trouble. Do I have to “be subject” to the kid in the car next to me who has this car stereo blaring so loudly that my teeth chatter? What about the people in the Polk County jail? What does it mean to “be subject” to people in North Korea? It couldn’t mean the North Koreans?!

 

Sadly, the Bible didn’t stipulate a series of exceptions. No, just the opposite. “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” No exceptions. Most of the time, God seems too demanding. I struggle with the idea that any of us should “be subject” to a dictator, an abuser, or anyone who is cruel and heartless. Is God asking us to role over and allow the worst of humanity to take over? Does the Holy Spirit fix it all, if we totally roll over and let God control everything? Wouldn’t that just give more Hitlers the opportunity to take advantage?

 

This is one devotional where I don’t even try to come up with an answer. I believe I should continue to “be subject” to people who test my ability to overcome road rage. Putin, Kim Jung-Un, and Bashar al-Assad, are just three examples of the many dangerous dictators around our world. Where does “being subject” stop and taking control start?

 

Being subject” I believe means to have compassion and care for others. That means helping them do what is in their best interest, and what is best for the whole world is what is best for the individual. Being a dictator isn’t in the whole world’s best interest, so “being subject” to the dictator is best served by helping that dictator loose power and control. Helping dictators stop their horrible sins is the best way to “be subject” to them. The challenge is to do it in such a way that does not hurt the masses around them. Remember, each one of the dictator’s citizens are human beings we are called to “be subject” to as well. That means we cannot just blow the dictator’s country off the map. That would dishonor the God who called us to “be subject” to all God’s children.

 

Today, pray for the difficult situations in our world. From the challenging people we face each day, to world leaders and their diplomatic responsibilities, the Spirit’s guidance needs to be in our midst. Think about the individuals in your life who challenge your patience, or worse, bring out your anger. Think of them as God’s special joys. It will change the way you focus on them. Then, pray for the world’s crises, asking for the Holy Spirit’s intervention. Our world cannot survive its nuclear power unless all of us are “subject” to God.

A Whole Lot of Disagreement Going On

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“Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:10)

 

This sounds so easy. But it is not! There are approximately 4,200 different religions around this world of ours. There are as many as 40,000 different Christian denominations worldwide. According to a National Catholic Register article, there are 9,000 Protestant denominations, 22,000 Independent denominations, 1,600 marginal denominations, 781 Orthodox denominations, 242 Catholic denominations, and 168 Anglican denominations. Uff da!

 

Each one of these different religions and denominations believes they are doing “what is pleasing to the Lord.” Then, within every denomination you have tens of thousands of places of worship that believe they are doing “what is pleasing to the Lord,” in their unique circumstance.  Even further, within every one of those places of worship, each individual follower believes they are living the faith in the way that “is pleasing to the Lord.” No human being agrees in every way, with every other human being, especially in the area of religion.

 

With all this diversity, or worse disagreement, or worse yet animosity, why should we ever even bother to try doing “what is pleasing to the Lord.” When it is being done billions of different ways, how can we ever know whether our way is “pleasing to the Lord?

 

My answer is twofold: first, I believe God is less concerned with right doctrine and perfection, than with honest attempts and intentional commitment to trying the best we know how, to live the faith and honor God. Second, and even more importantly, God is a God of mercy. No matter our mistakes and miscues, God forgives and restores us. We hold out our lives and place our very souls in the hands of a merciful God. Right isn’t nearly as important as trust. Trust our grace-filled and merciful God!

 

Today, think about the twists and turns your faith has made. How has your faith developed and matured throughout the years? Think about how your faith would be different if you had been born in Africa, Japan, or Yemen, rather than in the home and family that raised you. Then, pray that God will continue to be a God of grace and mercy. Finally, ask God to give you the grace and mercy to look on other faiths and denominations with a similar grace, mercy, and respect. If we all had God’s divine attitude of grace, mercy, and respect, our world would be a much better and more peaceful place.

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