Glory, or Not, In the New Normal

Abraham was blessed to be a blessing. Us too!

The complete breakdown in ancient Israel was their forgetting about blessing the nations in Abraham. Too often, much of our “walk” with God shows up as an inward focused spirituality.

If my spiritual life is anything less than a calling it is less than spiritual. I often find myself retreating to a cup of coffee sprinkled with a few chapters of the Bible and a quick prayer before doing my own thing while hoping God will bless it. At least for one more day.

This morning I was again reading Paul in Ephesians. Written during his second imprisonment and prior to his execution. He’s busy admonishing readers of his letter to remain true to the fullness of their calling. Also reminds them that Jesus is able to do more than we can ask or expect. All this in the shadows of his imprisonment and reminder to not lose heart “at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.”

What’s it mean, Glory?

What? How could Paul’s tribulations be the glory of the churches in Ephesus. Or, our glory, too?

Found myself dumbfounded by one man’s imprisonment posing as another’s glory. That was when I read the word glory in the sense of fame or honor. No Greek scholar, me. I dug out my trusty interlinear Bible and it’s links to a dictionary. Found that the Amplified Bible perhaps translated the passage best, ”So I ask you not to lose heart [not to faint or become despondent through fear] at what I am suffering in your behalf. [Rather glory in it] for it is an honor to you.”

Paul gave us all reason to praise God for what he suffered and how he saw it as opportunity for the gospel—remember the palace guards and members of Caesar’s household?

Beyond that, his understanding that all things actually do work together for good to those who are called according to his purpose. That thought brings me back to his admonition to walk worthy of our calling in the first verse of chapter four. It’s in the calling that our walk with God finds meaning. The prison gig, even execution, was part of Paul’s calling in Christ. What’s yours?

Engaging the New Normal

Heavy on my mind is the world we’ll face as we exit COVID-19. You’re probably tired of reading stuff about this pandemic but don’t stop reading because this is not about a pandemic but a “brave new world.”

So far, we’re not doing too well with all this. Facebook is filled with folks trying to wrap themselves in slogans about faith and positive thoughts. Others whine about having to wear masks or inability to frequent their favorite restaurant. We seem to forget that people are still talking about the “Spanish Flu,” which happened 102 years ago. They’ll be talking about the “China Virus” 100 years hence.

The last pandemic changed the economy, medicine and the way people respond to each other. This will too.

Medicine is going online. As is education. I’m ordering fresh produce delivered from Walmart. Some folks tremble to get back into church buildings where they won’t be able to hug or even shake hands. The world has changed. Others say they won’t return too quickly out of caution, myself included. Still others, nearly 30 percent according to one survey, say they prefer church in their living room—they don’t want to return to the big box.

To Glory or Not?

No matter what, the future brings major adjustments to us all. Will it turn out for our “glory?” Will there be reasons to praise God for guiding us into paths that expand his kingdom? Will we pout about the world forever changing or will we rejoice in the tools, technologies and new leaders we’ve discovered during the down time? It’s up to you and me to turn our calling into our walk.

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