Thursday – April 25, 2014; Colossians 3:12-17
12 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. 17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Our world today has grown contentious…with the rise of Social Media sites like Facebook and television ‘news’ stations that like to stir up their liberal or conservative audiences with scare tactics and half-truths, it seems like everyone has a bone to pick with everyone else. People get incensed very easily and there is very little room for tolerance and acceptance of opposing ideas, as it seems like we are split along, political, religious, or ideological lines…and in the process we are moving towards becoming an “us vs. them” culture….and in the process forgetting that WE are all in this world together.
This culture of contention is un-Christian…as Christ calls us to love and accept others, despite any differences we may have; Christ calls us to come together as one family of faith but like any other family, we are not always going to agree on everything.
As Christian Single parents, it is important for us to teach our children to follow the example of Jesus, who did not try to deride or insult those who disagreed with him, like the Sadducees and Pharisees; instead he met their hatred and mockery with love and acceptance, inviting them to discuss their differences in an attempt to find common ground. We can model Christ for our children by keeping an open mind, and seeking to revive failing ideas like “compromise”, “acceptance” and “agreeing to disagree”; over and above the more popular feeling of “my way or the highway”.
It would be a boring world if we all agreed with each other, not to mention as stagnant world…as much of our accomplishments as human beings has been born from conflict, disagreement, and then open compromise as we sought to solve the problems that trouble us all! The truth is that no one has all the answers, no the liberals, or the conservatives, certainly not the pundits, nor do all the religious folk have a lock on the ultimate truth. We all need to work together in order to bring our world closer to becoming the Kingdom of God in our midst…and in that kingdom all are welcome…as we are all in this world together, and all well-loved children of God.
As for our children, we can teach them to be tolerant an open-minded…and to do so we need to practice these traits ourselves. This may not always easy to do, but we do not have to do it perfectly; however, the more we practice the easier it will become…and the easier it becomes for us, the better we can teach our children not to lash in hatred or scorn at those they disagree with, but to reach out with openness and acceptance that embraces our differences so we can learn from each other, find compromise, and move forward into a brighter tomorrow…filled with the promise of God’s Kingdom right here where we are!
Our kids will be influenced by many people, events and media that we have no control over…no matter how careful we are, as we cannot watch over them all the time…and it would probably not be a great the best thing for them if we did, as our kids do need to have a little freedom to discover the world for themselves. This is all part of the learning process for them, which can help them to not only form their own opinions about issues, but also learn how to respect the opinions of others, and how to work with those who are have different ideas and backgrounds.
As parents, although we may sometimes want to shelter our children, the truth is that it is better if we can guide our children as they move into the world…giving them direction, and a solid foundation of morality, values and faith that can see them safely through the world, and to help them to relate to others in a way that truly reflects how Christ calls upon us to treat others: with love, compassion, understanding and grace. This does not mean we let them run wild…that does not work well either…but that we help to steer them in good directions in life, keeping in mind that out of all the other people, television shows, on-line postings, music and other things that can influence their lives…as parents we remain the most influential forces in our children’s lives (although this is not always obvious by their behavior, think of how much our parents have affected our lives). As single parents we have been there for our kids from the very beginning, and are powerful examples for them as they grow up…and where friends and media can change like the weather, and contention can cause people to turn on each other over simple disagreements…our love is always with them even if we do not always like the choices they have made.
We can teach them compassion, love, kindness and forgiveness by living our faith out loud through following in the ministry and mission of Christ in all that we do…by treating others with respect, and consideration…and acceptance, even if we do not always agree with them, remembering that we are all God’s children and all share the same planet and all share the same struggles, worries and fears…as well as sharing the same reasons for rejoicing, celebration and praise!
Let us Pray
Dear God, please help us to always treat others with kindness, compassion, forgiveness and acceptance: those we work with, our friends, our families, the strangers who can annoy us…and especially, our children. Let us remember that we are all well-loved children of God, and therefore all part of the same family, allowed to disagree, but still called to treat each other with love and respect. Please help us to be an example of Christ to our children, to teach them and guide them through life to face the world with an open mind and faith, to share our faith with all those around us…faith that can put an end to contention, and call us all into reconciliation…to come together to bring our world and our lives closer to the Kingdom of God.