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A Redemptive Community

A Redemptive Community

Ever have one of those days where every word you speak seems critical of something or someone? Itís more than a bad hair day, not easily dismissed by saying ďI got up on the wrong side of the bed.Ē The criticisms that flow toward others ultimately have to do with the critique and judgment one feels for self. There are those times when I just donít feel like a very good person, when I really donít like myself. Itís when I least like myself that I become so cynical and critical of all the people and circumstances around me. Sometimes it helps just to recognize that the person I really am most upset with is myself. Sometimes that recognition just makes the day worse, as I load up the guilt and the shame.
Those are the days when we most need the affection and positive strokes from those around us who love us in spite of ourselves. Yet they are the ones least inclined to reach out because of the looks and stares and words of judgment that are pouring forth from us. What we usually get, therefore, is what we are giving out. Our negative, judgmental actions and attitudes are met with critique and judgment, and the spiral sends us lower and lower.
There is a song in our hymnal that I have never actually sung, but the title describes what God has already done to relieve me of my negative, cynical spiral of doubt and judgment. Itís called, ďHe Took Me Out of the Pit.Ē The message of redemption is that God, in Christ, has lifted us out of the pit and given us a new heart and new lenses through which we now can view our world. Paul says it this way: For the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation (II Cor. 5:14-18).
As Godís reconciled people, we are ambassadors for Christ, Paul says, with God making his appeal through us. Rather than being judgmental individuals (or worse yet, a community of critical, judgmental people) we are a redemptive community, revealing the grace we have received to each other and to the world. From now on, therefore, let us be the new creation God has chosen, and leave that human point of view behind.

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