Saturday, December 31, 2011

Entering 2012 with the Comprehensive Christ

As I enter a New Year I have been challenged by a verse:
Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God the Father through him (Col 3:17).

None of us knows what lies ahead in 2012 but it is certain that our lives will be full of words and actions. Many will be routine and some may be large and heroic. We cannot help talking and doing. Yet, this verse wraps every part of our talking and doing, yes every part, into comprehensive recognition that nothing lies outside living for Jesus Christ. Living under the authority of his name and by the grace of the Holy Spirit touches whatever I do, in word or deed.

This takes the mundane and monotonous and lifts it up as opportunity for the comprehensive Christ to fill with significance. And it takes the knowingly important words and deeds and frames them in big-picture worship. Note, how the giving of thanks ensures a continuously bubbling positive spirit of gratitude. The power of positive thanking!

While many New Year resolutions peter out in human frailty, this extraordinary perspective on life has the potential to keep going on and on and on by God's grace. I attended a service of Lessons & Carols just before Christmas at an Elmhurst church where I preached in the summer, and a lady came rushing up to me. "You remember that open-air service when you spoke about us being ambassadors for Jesus Christ? And you said what a difference this makes every day when we wake up and realize who we are as ambassadors?" "Yes," I replied. "Well, I promised myself I'd tell you if I ever saw you again. It really is true! Ever since then my life has been different because, as a teacher, I know every day I am Christ's ambassador. It isn't always easy. I won't pretend there have not been days when I have lapsed. But, for most of the time, I now live differently as an ambassador!"

How she encouraged me! And what a challenge to take a word of Scripture seriously so that it roots down and Christ changes us. That's his fresh promise for us in 2012.

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