Summary: The third of a four part series entitled, ‘Four Resolutions for 2008’
We are now more than half way through first month of 2008 and this is the third of a four part series, ‘Four Resolutions for 2008.’ Four chapters, all from the New Testament, are being studied for the purpose of making four important resolutions for this year: (Slide 1)
• Live Free in Christ
• Love One Another (which became Aim High)
• Live Well With Others, which we will examine today
• Find Your Place and Serve
What does it mean well to live with others? As I thought about this question, I came across the story from Pastor John Dobbs about a little boy.
According to Dobbs, he was ‘sitting on his front steps with his face cradled in his hands, looking so forlorn. His dad came home just then and asked him what was wrong. The little boy looked up and said, "Well, just between us, Dad, I’m having trouble getting along with your wife, too!"
John Maxwell tells the story of another kid, in fact two kids, on their way to school, talking about their families. Maxwell noted, ‘One boy said—“I’ve figured out a SYSTEM for getting along with my MOM…. It’s very simple--- She tells me what to do….AND I DO IT!!!’
Getting along with others is a constant challenge, isn’t? Not only do we have to get along at home, but we also have to get along with teachers and students at school, our next door neighbors in the neighborhood, our co-workers in the office or on the factory floor, other drivers on the road, and one another. And sometimes it is just plain difficult and frustrating. But at other times, and we have these moments as well, when we get along and life is good.
From the beginning of creation, as we read in Genesis, humankind has had to deal with getting along, first in the garden, and then as time has passed in this wider world we call earth. And because God created us with the capacity and the need for relationship with other humans, getting along is a very important resolution, all year long.
So, how can we get along? How should we get along? It is an important question! Better yet, how can we not just get along but live well with others?
Our text for this morning, the fourth chapter of the book of Ephesians, is a long chapter, I am going to read it one section at a time and as I do, we are going to study that section and look for ways to live well with others. We begin with verses 1 through 3.
‘Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Always keep yourselves united in the Holy Spirit, and bind yourselves together with peace.’
Recently I read a very moving story from the pen of John McCain, one of our current presidential candidates. It was one of many episodes from his days as a Prisoner of War during the Vietnam War. I quote him verbatim at this point:
‘As a POW, my captors would tie my arms behind my back and then loop the rope around my neck and ankles so that my head was pulled down between my knees. I was often left like that throughout the night.
One night a guard came into my cell. He put his finger to his lips signaling for me to be quiet, and then loosened my ropes to relieve my pain. The next morning, when his shift ended, the guard returned and retightened the ropes, never saying a word to me.
A month or so later, on Christmas Day, I was standing in the dirt courtyard when I saw that same guard approach me. He walked up and stood silently next to me, not looking or smiling at me.
After a few moments had passed, he rather nonchalantly used his sandaled foot to draw a cross in the dirt. We stood wordlessly looking at the cross, remembering the true light of Christmas, even in the darkness of a Vietnamese prison camp. After a minute or two, he rubbed it out and walked away.’ McCain went on to call him ‘my Good Samaritan.’
Prison life is not the best place to live as both McCain and Paul would acknowledge.
In the midst of what we call his ‘missionary journeys’ Paul often ended up in prison because his ministry and his proclamation of the gospel for reasons I have shared in the past two weeks, i.e. opposition from a wide range of groups. (I note, that he speaks of this in the previous chapter, chapter 3 in verse 1 when he says, ‘I, Paul, am a prisoner of Christ Jesus because of my preaching to you Gentiles’.) You can read about some of those experiences in the book of Acts.