Monday, July 1, 2013

Week 6, Day 1 Devotional

The Story of Us: Acts Chapter 11-12 (July 1-July 7)
Day One:
It’s hard to believe but this week marks the third official week of my internship at Nationwide.  I feel blessed that God has given me this opportunity but that is not to say that every day has been a sunshine filled stroll through the park.  Most days I come home and just want to curl up in a ball and go to sleep.  Mostly, it is because spending eight hours a day around people wears me out.  For those of you who think that one magically gains this desirable trait called maturity with age, I can tell you after two short weeks this simply is not true.  In fact, there have been brief moments when I felt trapped in a high school flashback.
My point in mentioning this is that I feel it ties in with the opening of Chapter 11.  At this point in Acts, Peter returns to Jerusalem from his time in Joppa with the Roman Centurion Cornelius.  Astoundingly, rather than being overjoyed with the multitude being saved through Peter’s ministry, the Jewish believers start criticizing him for preaching the gospel to Gentiles.  "What do you think you're doing rubbing shoulders with that crowd, eating what is prohibited and ruining our good name?” (MSG).  Boy, does that bold and disheartening statement parallel my own experience. 
To help people connect with each other over the summer, some of the other interns at work have been organizing weekly social outings.  As you might guess, many of these events revolve around going to the bar. Now, I admit, I do enjoy an occasional beer, but sitting in a bar is just not something I have the desire to do.  As ashamed as I am to admit it, when I was invited to one of these events I could feel a whisper from the far reaches of my heart say, “you’re too good to associate with people like that.” (see Matthew 11:18-19)
Oh, how easy it is to forget the black depths that Jesus rescued us from!  We must be careful not to hold the gift we have in Christ over unbeliever’s heads.  In fact, because the new life we have as followers of Christ truly is a gift, we really have nothing to boast about.  If it weren’t for Him, we would still be trapped in the ways of our old life. 
You see, the problem really isn’t other people.  It is us. It is our pride that deludes us into thinking that as Christians we are better than everybody else.  So, when you see that person in your life that is hard to love this week I want you to examine your heart.  I want you to honestly ask yourself the question, is this person hard to love simply because of who they are or is it something within me?  To help you answer this question let me just point one thing out.  Do you know how much you have been forgiven?  Go with God and be at peace.
-Kyle Bogner

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