Called Me Higher

Recently I was talking with one of my friends and they challenged me on the way I had acted earlier. It devastated me because I hadn’t thought there was anything wrong.

I’ve thought it fairly common to think there are things wrong with you. In particular, for me, I noted that I was extremely different from a lot of people I hung out with. There are so many talks that I would hear online or in youth group or in school about self confidence that you almost felt like you needed to feel bad so you could overcome it later. Long story short (and skipping over about 20.5 years of my life…) I had a few things (read: a lot of things) that I did not like about who I was. I sort of forgot the whole “made in God’s image part” and instead felt as though the parts of my personality I had were wrong, and that I would never be able to change them.

It was around this time that I went away to camp for the last summer as a counsellor and found healing from those things I never thought I would. I wasn’t expecting it, but for the first time in a long time I felt loved and accepted for who I was and not for who I was not.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
Psalm 139:14

I was reminded that God had made me – and so that I must be good. It sounds like it was a magical time and I was perfect after that – but it wasn’t. It took over a year from that point to really accept different parts of me and be ok with them. To think that maybe, just maybe, I was good the way I was made. Everything was just fine!

Nope.

Everything came crashing down. My friend challenged me on an action I had done, but that action related to a huge part of how I had identified myself, and something that I had always thought was good. Could it be wrong? Could it really be that I wasn’t good? It took me a while to process, but then I remembered:

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:15-16 (cf. Leviticus 11:44-45)

I am called to be more than who I am. Yes, who I am is good, but I am also called to continue to grow and become more of who he wants me to be. And that very well may be changing how I react to things so that others are less likely to be hurt. It very well may be changing and paying more attention to what I say and not just passing it off as “who I am”.

Part of what made this revelation easier to swallow and process was that it was made in the context of someone seeing me as God sees me. God sees me as a beautiful daughter through Christ, and he does want me to grow and learn. I like to think of the times my parents have corrected me – they love me for who I am, but they saw things I could improve on and chose to acknowledge them and push me to work on them. So taking in the things that I need to improve is through the lens of growing – not that I am any less worthy or loved.

I am not called to be stagnant in my development or my faith. I am called deeper. I should examine my life and my actions and continue to hand them over to be consecrated and used for His will. I am called higher.

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New Temples (2 Corinthians 5-6)

One of my favourite symbols in the Old Testament is the construction and care of the temple. Particularly when Solomon builds it. I’m always flabbergasted by how much detail goes into building the temple (both Solomon’s permanent one and the moving one from the Exodus) and the riches that go into the temple. I love this symbol/imagery because today we are the new temples. So when I read the OT passages, I can reflect on how much MORE detail God put into me and how much MORE valuable he finds me than the temple filled to the brim with gold and expensive woods and jewels.

It is no wonder then, that in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 Paul tells us to not associate ourselves with things that are opposite to what God has called us to. Paul is quoting from Leviticus for part of it, which is where God originally commands the Israelites to be holy because he is holy (11:44). We have to protect ourselves and continue to set aside our lives to follow him (picking up our crosses, anyone?)

Does this mean we don’t associate with non-believers? No. I can’t reconcile that with the life of Jesus who himself spent countless hours reaching out to those who were called “sinners”. I think it is more that we choose not to strongly attach ourselves to non-believers because it is much easier for them to pull us down to sin than for us to pull them up into righteousness. That doesn’t make it easy, but as God’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) we continue to live in a way that shines his light to the world.

Glory “on Display” (Matthew 5-6)

Preface: there was just a lot of stuff in here, so I’m not going to go in depth on every single point…Thats like 13 sermons (at least) at once. No.

When I was first reading through, I noted that chapter 5 tells all about these things you should just do, and then suddenly chapter 6 is all these things you should do in secret. How do these two fit together, then, if they are to be carried out in different manners? Since the Bible originally didn’t have chapter/verse numbers, I tried to think of the two sections as a cohesive unit. As I was reading, there was one verse that came up in my mind:

“… be holy for I am holy.”
Leviticus 11:43 (and referenced in 1 Peter 1:16)

Honestly, some of the things in this passage just make sense to do. Don’t get a divorce (because marriage is a sacred covenant) [5:31-32], don’t swear to do things (just do what you said you would do) [5:33-37], love everyone [5:43-48] … and of course be the salt and the light. That section is often referenced (I find at least) because it reminds us that we are supposed to spread the good news of Christ to everyone. Being light to the world, and not forgetting who we come from [5:13-16].

But why?

Because Christ came to fulfill the law.

Jesus tells those listening (fairly early on) that he is fulfilling the laws of the prophets. It is for this reason (and the fact that he is the Son of God) that he is able to speak with authority. We represent Christ to the world, and thus we are the salt and light. And to BE the salt and light, we do these things he commanded (look at all those pieces fitting together!)

Then chapter 6 comes and we say “hold up. I thought I was supposed to be showing the world about God, not hiding it?” Well … yea. The point is that the glory is supposed to go to God, not to us. Unlike the religious leaders of the day, we are supposed to do things for the glory of God, not so that other people will see us and think we’re fantastic.

And if we are doing these things for the glory of God, we have no need to be anxious, worrying about the next day. If we worry, we externally show that we are not trusting, which diminishes the image of God who we say is all sufficient. Not much glory in that!

So to conclude (my English teacher would hate me for using that ….), today I’m going to try and remember that the things I do are all on display for God, and that my job is to give him glory! It’s easy to forget … but it is ultimately so worth it to give everything back to the creator who gave everything to me!