Wherever we are in our spiritual lives or journeys, we are free to redefine ourselves however we may decide to do so. We can take a step in any direction and arrive closer to God if that is our desire. I commend this spiritual freedom to you, for our identities are partially hidden from us though God knows them well. Growing and maturing involve becoming ever more what we were born to be and what God intends us to be. In Christ we become more fully ourselves.
Typically Christian ways of redefining ourselves may easily be named. Examples of them are giving thanks, repenting, forgiving, and turning the other cheek when we have been mistreated or disadvantaged.
The quality binding these examples together, however, is taking an action. We think of defining as speaking or writing words. But our words alone cannot redefine us, because we are both minds and bodies. We have to practice what we preach (or say) in order to redefine ourselves. Saying “I forgive you” alone does not redefine us, but saying “I forgive you” along with restoring a person to the same relationship as before completes the redefinition as a forgiving person.
I write these things to you so that the actions you take will lead you to God by way of Jesus Christ who claimed, “Whoever enters by me will be saved…I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Saint John 10:9-10).
Last week we heard from Tom Drake who sent us a thumb drive that contains a video and photographs of the Church of the Good Shepherd.
Tom visited Good Shepherd last July before the rains. He had been in touch and arranged to visit and to photograph the church and several others in the Scranton area. His video is very impressive.
You can have a look at it on his You Tube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfoTBIsOAk484yzX3ogb9KA/featured). Once there, click on Videos to see the thumbnail photographs of the churches he visited last summer in our area. The video of Good Shepherd is one among them, and it may be located here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wW9Od1drLo).
He says on a page of his channel: “While nothing is off limits, my primary subjects are churches, architecture, and travel.” I am not certain of this, but I think he is from Northeastern Pennsylvania. I know he lives now in Smyrna, Tennessee, which is not far from Nashville. He is devoted to his hobby, and it is important to bear in mind how valuable our church is to someone who takes it not for granted.
I think that our experience of God is often that way: we get used to God’s blessings and take them as our own as a matter of course. But certainly it is foolish to do that. We have to remember that God’s blessings continue into eternity if we but have the ability to recognize them for what they are. And recognizing God’s blessings is to be fully alive, “ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,” as we sing in the great hymn (Hymn 410).