Wednesday, August 17, 2011

II Cor 5 & 6 – Dropped from the Checklist

As a Cambridge Justice of the Peace, I sit on the town’s board of civil authority. Tonight we updated the town’s voter checklist. We added new names  – hey there, Josh Nalette of Lamoille Valley Church of the Nazarene! -  and deleted others. Including this entry: "Page, Diane. Deceased."

(Excuse me, I just paused to eat a big bite of chocolate chip cookie dough comfort food. There, that’s better.) While the other JPs were talking for 20 minutes about property values up at Smugs, I pretty much was looking at my wife’s name. (Grief is like that – you are going through a normal day and wham something happens and it hits you. This was just a little more obvious than most.) Anyway I ended up thinking that someday, the mighty of this world also will be reduced to three words in an unread report somewhere in Chicago or New York or wherever: Obama, Barack. Deceased. Trump, Donald. Deceased. The Captains and the Kings Depart. In Act V of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Prince Hal eulogizes the fallen challenger Hotspur:

Ill-weaved ambition, how much art thou shrunk!
When that this body did contain a spirit,
A kingdom for it was too small a bound;
But now two paces of the vilest earth
Is room enough.

But enough depressing talk from the second most read body of work in the English language.  Here’s some encouragement from Numero Uno: “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heavens, not built by human hands” (II Cor 5:1). Towns and their records are momentary things, like the flowers that fade. How wonderful to know that Diane’s name, and mine, is written forever in the document that really counts, the Lamb’s Book of Life.

*  * * * * * *

In Chapter 6:3, Paul writes, “we put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.” Then he goes on to say how he and Timothy put up with an awful lot so that others might be blessed. I wonder if I have any idea what kind of stumbling blocks I put in the way of others who are lurching towards the cross. Do I have “inordinate affections” – do I love anything too much (America, myself)? Do my prejudices repel people desperate to meet Christ, whether they know it or not? Do I speak too often of God’s will for others – or maybe, not often enough? Or both?

“Do not be yoked with unbelievers” is invoked when a believer wants to marry a non-believer, and rightly so. But it also has applications for business partnerships and in any way (even internally) when what is holy risks being profaned by too-close contact with evil influences. I avoid painful, useless yoking not by obeying a set of laws but by examining myself in the Spirit and the Word, and by loving Jesus more than anything or anyone.  

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