The word “cancel” has taken on a whole new meaning in the last few years. It seems that with our social media presence and the fact that tweets, status updates, and messages don’t get deleted, people can “go back in time” and find something that someone has said and bring it back into the spotlight. Sometimes, what people have done in the past causes them to get “cancelled”. We see this a lot with some celebrities these days. Careers have ended because of a transgression.
I don’t want to argue for or against the idea of “cancelling” someone over something they’ve said or done. But I do want to think about this concept.
Is it OK just to write someone off because of an indiscretion?
While it is important to hold people accountable for their actions, and rebuke people where necessary, I do believe that we Christians are called to a higher standard. Why? Because Jesus gives us the perfect example of how to deal with people who have been “cancelled”.
Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The reality we all need to see is that we are all sinners. Every single one of us has made mistakes or done things that we’re not proud of. And even still, Christ died for us. But what if He had given up on us? What if He would have just said, “These people are just too sinful.”? Where would we be now?
We should rejoice daily at the fact that Jesus did not give up on us!
But even more, we are called to go the extra mile for our brothers and sisters. In the letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul encourages us to help restore our friends who have been caught in transgressions. He says, "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
What He’s saying is that if we help to carry the weight of the transgression of our neighbours, then we will fulfil the law of Christ. And what is the “law of Christ”? It is to love God and love our neighbours as ourselves. We fulfil the law of Christ by not “cancelling” others, but by loving others and carrying their burdens.
So remember, none of us are perfect. We all have sinned. “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” And because of that, we should love God, love others, and carry each other’s burdens.
The way we view the events that happen in our lives can impact us significantly. I have always been fascinated by the interplay of seemingly unrelated events and attempts to explain them. Are they purely coincidental, meaning that they happen by chance? Or, do they have the quality that psychologist Carl Jung first termed synchronistic, that is, they are meaningfully related even though there is no causal relationship? Or, could events and their explanations actually be providential and involve divine foresight? Today this interplay surfaced in a very real way. My wife, Jane, recently had successful surgery on her right knee to remove painful bone spurs. She has been steadily recovering but has had to be very careful while walking around the house and outside. She was feeling very confident and healthy while walking around our flat when it happened that she inadvertently slipped on some water that had spilt on our tile floor. She made the most graceful sliding fall you could imagine and was fine, but we were shaken by this.
Jane has recently been reading through the book of Hebrews in the Bible during her morning devotional times, reading a chapter each day until she senses some personal application from God. Today she was reading in Hebrews chapter 12. As she read along, she came to verses 12-13, which stood out to her:
"Therefore, lift up your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed."
Was her reading this verse following her knee problems coincidental and only by chance? Was it synchronistic and meaningfully related? Or, actually, was her reading providential, involving divine foresight?
As believers, we know that God cares deeply about us and guides our lives. God can place special verses in front of us as reminders that we should pay careful attention to.
Jane and I shed a tear as we read and re-read the passage and had a brief prayer, and our perspective today brought thankfulness and joy to our lives, especially as she continues to heal.
Think about your own life and consider: Has there ever been something you viewed as coincidental or synchronistic when in fact it was providential?
It is a myth that we naturally and intuitively know how to love.
Here, I am not talking about just romantic love, though it is also included. Instead, I am talking about another kind of love that Jesus mentioned in Matthew 22:39, “love your neighbour.”
Neighbour? What neighbour?
Your neighbours include your colleagues, project teams, clients, the guy sitting next to you … you name it. If you are leading a team, your direct reports are your “immediate neighbours.”
Now, pause for 10 seconds, and let the faces of your “neighbours” show up at your mind’s screen. Say their names in your mind, or out loud if no one is nearby.
Jesus says, “Love your neighbour.”
In Philippians 1:9-10, Apostle Paul has an insightful prayer:
He says, “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 … ”
Interesting! Paul doesn’t simply say, “you should love one another.” Instead, he prays that the Christians in the ancient city of Philippi will increase their love “in knowledge and depth of insight.”
We need to know what love is, and what love is not (knowledge). We also need an accurate and deep understanding of how best to love (insight). What works for one person may not work for another one. You need “discernment.”
If you have read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, you will know that the point here is not just about knowing your own love language, but how you may relate to others using “their” language.
So, here is the point: it’s not about you. It’s about those you are trying to love. Can you speak their language so that they will know that you truly care?
FEAR NOTHING BUT GOD! OR FEAR EVERYTHING BUT GOD?
I remember one sentiment a friend shared with me during a conversation several years ago. He stated that he has no fear of God as God loves him. I am sure that God does love him, deeply, yet this love does not negate our rightful fear of Him.
From Genesis to Revelation, we see that living in fear of God is always life-giving, and our fellowship with God is broken when we fail to fear him. Proverbs shoots many succinct arrows to pierce our pride and challenge us in living God’s way.
We are reminded that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Pr 1:7), and “wisdom” (Pr 9:10). “The fear of the Lord leads to life!” (Pr 19:23). “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death” (Pr 14:27) and, “by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil “ (Pr 16:6).
What’s the difference between living in fear and living in fear of God?
When we are fearful of everything around us; job loss, failing health, our children’s futures, romance or lack of it, uncertain finances etc. We get fidgety, worry, become anxious. Our heart is gripped by fears and we are paralysed by the “What if ’s” in our lives, these stop us from living the life that God always wanted us to have - Life that is abundant and free! (John 10:10). Jesus tells us to not worry about tomorrow, lay your burden before Him, live like the birds in the sky and be confident like the lilies of the valley.
Living in fear of things or people will cripple us, God reassures us that living this life in awe and reverence of who He is bringing Him delight and we are blessed.
“...what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?” (Deut 10:12-13).
What is one thing you can do to live in deep reverence for Christ today?
A reflection on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-10) and response in prayer for our city, and other cities in turmoil.
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountain and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Lord, bless those who recognize how broken we are and how desperately we need You. Raise up more humble people who value others above themselves.
image by Hyatt Moore
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Heavenly Father, comfort those who mourn: who mourn the loss of unity, who grieve over the memory of brighter days, who struggle to accept a new reality. Comfort those whose families and friendships have been divided by conflict.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Bless those who submit to Your will and who submit to the law. We pray that more of us would learn to submit to one another in love, even - and especially - when we don’t agree.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Help us to live with virtue, holiness and justice in our personal lives. May this spread and overflow into our communities, and may we taste the fruit of righteous actions soon.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Bless those who show mercy and grace to others. May we emulate them. May we be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Help us to examine our motives and our desires. Help us to crucify our sins and old selves that we may be closer to You.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Lord, please raise up and send out more of Your children. May each one of us be a peacemaker.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Comfort those who have been insulted or slandered. We pray for a fair and righteous outcome for those who have been falsely accused.
Thank You Lord that we can experience the blessing of the kingdom of heaven today. Help us to build your kingdom and fulfil Your will here on earth as it is in heaven.