When we have Christ in us we have integrity because he was a man of integrity.
Mark 12:14 says,
Teacher we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
This comment was made by the Pharisees and the Herodians, people who eventually, helped kill Jesus. They were his enemies, his rivals, they saw the strength of his conviction.
His friends and disciples were sometimes less convinced, sometimes more convinced, depending on their experience of Jesus.
Mark 8:27-31 says,
Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.
But within Jesus’ own family, the belief in him, as a Man of God, very different to themselves, wasn’t there; apart from Jesus’ mum and dad, who had heard it straight from the mouths of angels. Jesus loved his family, nuclear and extended, very much but it wasn’t until after his death that many of them believed who he was.
Mark 6:2-6 says,
When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.
When I think about the different conversations I have with different people in my life I am not surprised by these different reactions to Jesus. Jesus, although he was fully God, on earth he was like us, he was fully human.
Our family sees us working out who we are, they know us on the journey. Even in one conversation, depending upon how much we verbalise, we may confuse our family greatly, about our own beliefs, because we are busy arguing both sides with ourselves. Our family is the place where we confirm our beliefs. Sometimes we use family situations to help us cement our ideas, test them, try them out and we may seem weak at that point.
Our friends get the next version. They see us knowing who we are, but learning how to walk it. How much they see us in action, and with strangers, will dictate how much they believe us. Because it is strangers, even enemies who will see the best of us. If we have Christ in us they will see nothing but integrity because, by the time we have made it to them, we have worked out what we believe and how to walk in it, we are prepared.
Thinking about this as a parent, I am reminded to be more like Mary, who “pondered these things in her heart,” and less like me, who would like my family to have an immediate solution within the family, to arguments, and an immediate faith in God in every situation. I need to allow my children to test, and try out, on me and each other. Then I need to pray for the outcome beyond our home.
Thinking about this as a human, I need to be kinder to my family, a little less verbal perhaps and more prayerful instead, more grateful for the safe place they provide. I am encouraged that Jesus too needed to work things out. In all of it I need to depend on God, invite the Holy Spirit to guide me, and make the ways of Jesus, my ways because he actually got it right.
Be encouraged today to let yourself work things out with God. Be encouraged to forgive your family for seeing your weaknesses. Be encouraged to love them through theirs. Be encouraged to be thankful for the friends that walk out your faith with you. Be encouraged to give Christ to strangers and let them see your integrity. May it encourage them to work things out in their own lives with Christ.
Lots of love,
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