It is difficult to be an ambassador of Christ these days. The shameful antics of many that speak in his name have caused many of us to withdraw from announcing our loyalty to Jesus. It’s not easy being a Christian these days.
In today’s reading, the apostle Paul talks about the afflictions and hardships that faced the earliest followers of Jesus. He writes of beatings and imprisonment, hunger and calamities, yet he writes not to offer a litany of complaints but instead to lift up hope, “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” (verse 10) He understands-and has experienced-the transforming power of being reconciled to God. Through his own story, he now invites others into that same experience, not to improve themselves in today’s sense of the word, but to live transformed lives, lives aligned with God’s spirit.
Several years ago, I attended an eight-day silent retreat and spent much time meditating on what it means to be aligned with God’s spirit. The word given to me in prayer was “Friend.” I was invited to shift my relationship into a much deeper intimacy with the Divine. That same invitation is ours today, too.
God of love, you continue to invite us into deeper friendship. Abide in us always. Amen. — MW