This weekend, I’ll have the privilege of “officiating” the renewing of wedding vows for my in-laws on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary. I had the same opportunity to take part in a renewal of vows for my own parents on their golden anniversary eleven years ago, and I am honored to be able to do it a second time.
I must say, I have some very special in-laws and I am exceedingly proud of them. The Scriptures speak much about children bringing honor to their parents, but they also say a lot about parents leaving a legacy of honor for their children (and children-in-laws). My in-laws sure have, and I am very grateful for the heritage they have passed down to their children, and grandchildren.
It takes a lot to live with someone for fifty years (especially if they’re a Gentry!). Traits like patience and perseverance. Thick skin. Longsuffering. Self-sacrifice. Genuine love. And yes, the health to live that long.
But perhaps the one character trait that stands out, especially in this day and age, is faithfulness. The secret to a great long-lasting marriage is not so much the spectacular or romantic as much as it is doing the every-day-life things, every day. And, over the course of fifty years, that’s a lot of days of staying the course, together.
When the apostle Paul in the New Testament compared our relationship to Christ with marriage–we are the bride of Christ–I think he had much of that idea of faithful love in mind. Jesus promises to always be faithful to us, and it is His model of faithfulness that we are called to follow.
I hope that of all the character traits you exhibit in your walk with God, and in your service to His church, a life of consistent, steady faithfulness will stand out above the rest.
Thanks to my in-laws for their testimony of faithfulness, first to the Lord and also to each other and to their family–and thanks to each of you as well for your weekly testimonies of faithfulness to Him and to his church. My prayer is that He would truly find us faithful.
I’m praying for you, as I hope you are for me too..
A few Sundays ago in my message on Biblical parenting by modeling, I referred to an interesting verse from 1 Corinthians 4:16 where the apostle Paul dared to tell his own children in the faith to “imitate me.” That passage always got my attention, first for the audacity of someone saying that to anyone, and then the courage it would take to live such a life that you could confidently tell others to follow your example.
But that was not out of the ordinary at all from the apostle Paul. In those early days in the life of the first-century church, Paul the church planter found himself needing to instruct those followers who had either come from a background steeped in religious legalism, or from pantheistic paganism that had no moral restraints. Rather than just offer them unfamiliar instruction to tell them how to live, he showed them.
On a number of occasions Paul wrote to those early Christians–in Corinth, in Thessalonica, and in Philippi–to follow His lead. Ultimately, he summed up his point in 1 Corinthians 11:1 when he wrote: “Be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ.”
I have to admit, I’m pretty uncomfortable ever asking anyone to “be like me.” I can hardly imagine instructing another Christian to “do what I do” or “say what I say.” It’s more than just some over-spiritualized sense of humility. I’ve lived with myself long enough that I know my example is rarely worthy of following.
But there is a great truth for us about setting an example and having an influence on our world, by modeling the behavior and character and values that reflect our faith in Christ. Whether it be in parenting, where we’re always being watched and regularly being imitated, or in interpersonal discipleship, where we are called to reproduce more disciples (who reproduce more disciples), it’s so very important that the model we set comes from the model we follow, which is Jesus.
Remember the old saying, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” It’s also the sincerest form of genuine discipleship. That was Paul’s method–“Follow me, as I follow Christ“–and that’s what we say to our children and youth, and to those young in the faith who are looking for worthy Christian models to pattern their lives after.
May our lives truly reflect Jesus in all that we do, and may we live in such a way that we can boldy, and yet humbly, say “Imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”
I’m praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
What would happen if a world-class musician performed elegant classical music on a priceless instrument in a busy train station in an American city?
The Washington Postdid a little experiment to find out for themselves in their own city in January of 2007. The musician was Joshua Bell, who can earn upwards of $50,000 for an evening’s performance. The instrument was a three hundred year-old Stradivarius violin valued at $3.5 million. The music included the works of Bach and other masters.
The experiment was captured on hidden camera. How did people respond?
During Mr. Bell’s 45 minute performance, 1,097 people passed by. Twenty-seven people dropped spare change into his open violin case, for a total of $35. Seven of them stopped what they were doing to listen for at least one minute. The other 1,070 people hurried past, oblivious, uninterested, unmoved.
It made me wonder how I might have responded had I been among the busy people in that Metro station that day. I probably would have missed it too, and I suspect you might have as well. The sad reality is, we miss such moments of wonder and grace every day.
How many times do we encounter truth, beauty, and excellence, without giving it a second look? How many messages of hope do we ignore? How many demonstrations of grace do we disregard? How many divine appointments do we overlook? What are we missing, trying to make our next train?
What would happen if, as a habit, we started noticinga little more. I’ve had a good opportunity to do my own little experiment at Vacation Bible School this week. I’ve tried to look at all the little urchins running among us–ordinary kids who are loud, attention-challenged, and bouncing-off-the-walls–to see them as what God can do through them, in His extra-ordinary ways, not in how much trouble they can be. They have such potential as His “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” (Eph. 2:10) They are little maestros, instruments of praise in God’s hands, and how privileged we are to have the joy of spending the week seeing God work in their lives.
It’s amazing how much wide-eyed expectancy can change your perspective on things, and on people. May I suggest you give it a try as well. Open your eyes in the midst of your busy-ness and recognize those brief moments of grace and opportunities for wonder that God sends your way each day. There will be at least a few today. Will you see them?
I’m praying for you, and I can’t wait to see each of you this Sunday at Shelby Crossings as we gather together to experience His grace up close and personal.