12 Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
14 Do all things without murmuring and arguing, 15 so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world. 16 It is by your holding fast to the word of life that I can boast on the day of Christ that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out as a libation over the sacrifice and the offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you 18 and in the same way you also must be glad and rejoice with me.
As Christians, we are called to follow in the footsteps of Christ, to open our hearts and allow God to work through us, as we proclaim the message of God’s great love and salvation for all people. Now while this does not mean that we have to stand out in the middle of our local shopping center parking lot and preach the Gospel, it does mean that we should do our best to follow that old adage “What Would Jesus Do?” in all that we do in our lives.
However, as we are busy single parents who often have to go above and beyond in our parenting duties, we do not always think about what Jesus would do before we act and react, and it would be surprising if we did not do a little murmuring and arguing as we went about our daily live. It is even possible that we might find ourselves actually complaining from time to time; but that is only because we are human, imperfect, and carry around our share of character defects.
Being a parent is not an easy job, regardless of the circumstances! So much can go wrong, and there are so many mistakes to be made, by ourselves, our children, teachers, doctors, and other professionals, as well as family and friends. As single parents there is always so much that needs to be done, and the days can be jammed with activities, from school and church, to things like scouts, dance class, sports, music lessons and recitals, homework, cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring, etc… There just does not seem to be time to follow God’s will for us, not to mention an opportunity to share the message of God’s love with others!
We are just too busy, and at the end of the day we are too worn out…and we can wind up complaining and murmuring from time to time…mostly about not having enough time or energy to meet all of our responsibilities.
But that is okay, because God knows that we are imperfect, and loves us any way, and that is why we are forgiven for our failings. In that forgiveness we are reminded that we are not called to follow Christ perfectly, but to just make a good effort; and making a good effort is not that difficult…just read today’s lesson again: it calls upon us to put our faith into all we do! This can be as simple as holding a door for someone, being a listening ear for a friend or a child; it can mean welcoming the newcomer no matter where we are: work, school, church, the neighborhood! Sharing the good news of God’s love can be as simple as not honking the horn while in traffic (something I need to work on), shoveling snow from a neighbor’s walk, or just treating others with compassion and respect…all the while keeping in mind that we are all God’s children.
Knowing that we are ALL children of God reminds us that we are all part of the same family, and while families do not always agree on everything, and can fall into squabbles, at their best a family comes together when needed to support and care for each other, regardless of any differences they may have. Seeing each other as God’s children also helps us to treat others the way we would want our own children treated while they are making their way in the world.
When we treat others like we would treat members of our own family, or our children, we are keeping Christ in all we do, and letting God work through us…we are doing what Jesus would do, and we are doing it as we live our lives, meet our responsibilities and take care of ourselves and our kids!
When we do this we are also teaching our children how to treat themselves and others: with respect and compassion, as fellow members of God’s family. When we treat each other well we are sharing the message of God’s love and forgiveness with a world that is in desperate need of God’s grace…because our world is not an easy one, and we all struggle with doing what is right. By sharing this message with others we give hope to all who struggle, hope in knowing that God does not call on us to be perfect, but simply to love as we are loved; to forgive just as we have been forgiven, and to care as we are cared for by God.
In this message, proclaimed by Christ and shared by all of us who follow him, there is freedom from sin and the shame that can from it, freedom in the knowledge that God loves us just as we are…and in this freedom there is cause for rejoicing!
Let us Pray
God, thank you for your love and forgiveness which frees us from sin and shame, and gives us cause to rejoice! Help us not to be too hard on ourselves or on our children for our mistakes and failings…let us share your spirit of love and forgiveness with all those around us, including ourselves. Living in this spirit, help us to remember that we are all part of your family and to treat others like we’d want our children treated: like well-loved children of a loving God.