Over the last few weeks, I have had the honor to lead several funeral services on behalf of the church. Before every funeral, I get the privilege of sitting with each family and listening to them tell stories of the one they love who has died. The impact that one human being can have on those around them becomes clear in our time together. It leaves me asking the question: what was his or her secret?
As a young person, I often am fooled into believing that the goal of life, the secret, per se, is to be extraordinary. I am always re-evaluating my goals and formulating new ones. Do any of you have a bucket list? To me, this is fun stuff!
And, then I read something like this, from Richard Rohr, one of my favorite theologians: “It’s a gift to joyfully recognize and accept our own smallness and ordinariness. Then you are free with nothing to live up to, nothing to prove, and nothing to protect. Such freedom is my best description of Christian maturity, because once you know that your “I” is great and one with God, you can ironically be quite content with a small and ordinary “I.” No grandstanding is necessary. Any question of your own importance or dignity has already been resolved once and for all and forever.”
When I listen to families share stories of their loved ones, the folks who often leave the most significant marks are the one whose main goal was simple: love for God and neighbor. Often, these are the people who would never boldly claim this was their goal. Instead, they humbly and consistently embodied it—they exhibited “Christian maturity.”
So I ask you, how might following Christ redefine your ideas about what it means to live a good life? What really is our goal? This week, I challenge you to read these scriptures and others from Paul’s letters.
- Ephesians 3:17-19: And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
- Philippians 1:9-11: And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
- Galatians 5:13-14: 13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Do any of those passages particularly speak you? Pray those scriptures. Spend time asking God to help you define your goals for your life in Christ and to give you strength to embody them humbly and boldly.
–Katherine Ebling, Pastor of Prayer