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Friday, July 1, 2016

A Guest Post From Q



In the midst of an incredibly busy week at Q,
here's a guest post from Grace Michaels.
This is the essay she submitted for the discipleship scholarship,
which she was awarded during the Wednesday night plenary session.
I am proud of her for many reasons,
but mostly because she loves so well.

*****

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” –Colossians 3:12-14

Loving, forgiving, putting on compassion and kindness and humility and gentleness and patience, has at times been a struggle for me—perhaps especially so during Bible quizzing.  Maybe that sounds awful, but even in such a widespread community of quizzers and fellow Jesus disciples, there are going to be people who aren’t your best of friends…people with whom you don’t get along well…people who hurt you in a lot of ways.  Basically, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.  And it never will be.

I quizzed on a new district this year, and it was one of the best things that has happened to me during the course of my Bible quizzing career.  I get along with everyone on my district.  We’re all friends.  None of us are perfect, but we still love each other.  Loving, at the least loving the people on my district, has been pretty easy for me this quiz season.  But that makes me stop and wonder: Am I only striving to love when it’s easy?  In that case I’m not obliged to strive that much at all.  There are still people who aren’t easy to love—and maybe I’m not really loving them yet.  Maybe I’ve pushed them off to the side now that they aren’t as close as they used to be, and maybe I’m forgetting about them.  Maybe I’m dismissing them because they hurt me.  Maybe I’ve made a choice in the back of my mind not to love them and not to forgive them.

If as “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,” we are to clothe ourselves with “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,” that means compassion for everyone, kindness towards everyone, humility in every situation and no matter who we are facing; gentleness towards everyone, patience with everyone.  Everyone is a lot of people.  Studying these three verses from Colossians has reminded me that sometimes I don’t follow these instructions.  I ignore the people I just don’t want to love or spend my time on.  I say they’re not worth it.  But the truth is…I’m not worth it, either.  Nobody is.  But Jesus loves us anyway.  Who am I to not love everyone in the same way?

Sometimes it’s easy to say I’ll show compassion, I’ll be kind and gentle, and I’ll even forgive and have patience and humility,  but I don’t want to actually say that I will love—especially not my enemies.  The thing is, though, that love binds all these virtues together in perfect unity.  The rest of this doesn’t really matter without love, because love holds it all together.  And saying I have all these other virtues but not love is a false statement—because I can’t truly have anything else if love is not present within me and I am not pouring it out, to anyone and everyone.  So I have chosen to “put off my old self,” the self that wants to dismiss as unimportant the act of loving those who hurt me.  I want to do the most loving thing in any and every situation.  I want my whole life to be love, for love, and lived in love.  If I don’t love, I can’t forgive. I can’t clothe myself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. I can’t bear with and forgive others if I have a grievance against someone.  I have to have love and live love—or I have nothing, and I literally am nothing at all.  Colossians 3:12-14 has been my reminder of this throughout the quiz year, and I find that the more I put love into practice, the easier it becomes; not because it is easy to love everyone, but because love grows within me to the point where it is all that is flowing from me.

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