We are Chosen and Loved

 IMG_2184    Paul is now getting to the heart of the matter. He tells us we are God’s chosen and beloved people. God has chosen us; we are meant. I find this so much more valuable than a program or laws telling us how we are to act and interact. This is the heart of the gospel message we can take to heart and to live. If we truly believed and experienced what it means to be God’s chosen, God’s beloved, how differently would we live our lives? When John Baptized Jesus in the Jordan River he heard a voice telling him that he was the beloved Son. Here Paul is telling us that we too are the beloved of God. We know how this revelation changed Jesus’ life. Afterwards he immediately went off to a quiet place to pray and think about what just happened to him. And what it would mean for his life. What does it mean for my life, your life?
It is knowing we are loved and in loving others that holds together tolerance and forgiveness of one another. Because we know we are loved, we are capable of love. This is the richness of the gospel that makes us wise. That Paul encourages us to share with one another.
Paul tells us we are also forgiven by God. Now we must in turn forgive others. This is where we find peace. When we put down the greed, the anger, the bad temper, spitefulness. These are all the ways we hurt others. And when we do we hurt ourselves. This behavior is the behavior of the ‘old self’ Paul talks about. But now we have a new self.
The new self is the Christ-self. The Christ-self that is compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and has patience with others as well as with ourselves. I sometimes feel that when I am none of these things, it is because I have put such high expectations upon myself that it makes me irritable that I have not achieved what I wish to achieve. But if I can remain mindful, instead of mindless, of the Christ that lives within me, I can relax and trust that all will work out as it should.
It is love that is the crown of all these behavior. It is love that is at the heart of all these behaviors. And it is this love for one another that dissolves all barriers. Barriers between Greek or Jew, free or slave, those who keep the law or those who do not. Paul is setting out only a few of the barriers we set up between ourselves and people who are different from us. In each person there is no distinction. In each person is Christ.
And the next (famous or infamous part, depending on how you react to Paul) part, then cannot be from someone who is a misogynist. In fact a closer reading shows that it is respect and love that Paul is encouraging between husband and wife, children and parent, masters and slaves. Here Paul is neither condemning nor condoning these roles. For they are roles in the society he lives in. Givens. His entreaty is as it was a few sentences earlier. All our relationships should be governed by love.
In whatever role or work we are given to do (because people in Paul’s day were born into their roles or status and could not easily change them) Paul says to put our hearts into it. Do our jobs or live out our roles with integrity and not halfheartedly. Whatever it is we do we do it for Christ. The only law is to Love. The only rule to invite Jesus Christ to rule our hearts and our lives. To be other Jesus Christ’s.

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