Respectfully submitted by Brenda Worley
So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 1 Corinthians 3: 7
Mother Mary shared with us her last in a series on Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth. In this letter Paul addresses their elitist spiritual attitudes. They had become puffed up, accusatory, and judgmental based on whose camp they were in…Paul, Apollos, others who had performed baptisms of the members. Paul informs them that they are immature Christians and not ready for “solid food.” He tries to help them see that, regardless of who baptized them, they are all children of God. It is God who provides the gifts for the journey to him. They, as we, are “God’s field, God’s building.”
The mature Christian spirit means that we are created for the spirit to be poured from us onto our fellowman. We are to be loving, kind, forgiving, patient, joyful, and self-controlled. Does this mean that there is no place for anger? Is anger a sin?
There are different words in Greek that have been translated into the word “anger.” This would imply there are different kinds of anger. One of those words in orgizomenos. This is a type of anger that is an abiding condition in which conflict is cultivated and anger in others is provoked. This type of anger often leads to acts of revenge. This type of anger is sinful and may lead the angry one to commit more sins to stem it. Another word used is thumos. Thumos is often translated “wrath.” It is a flash of anger…an outburst that quickly dissipates. It can be a righteous anger such as in the face of an injustice.
Will Campbell was a man with a mature Christ-loving spirit. He called himself a bootleg preacher and said that he wrote “rare books” for a living. His theory was that if you loved one, you had to love them all. He was a white Mississippian who walked with black youth when Little Rock schools were integrated. He stood with Martin Luther King, Jr. at the founding of the CLC. He played a critical role in the integration of Nashville’s shops and restaurants. But, he also ministered to members of the KKK. These acts demonstrate his spiritual maturity and support his theory of “loving them all.” Though it is hard, this is the kind of love we are to exhibit.
Mother Mary shared a personal dilemma in her own extended family. A niece contacted her in an agitated state about a cousin’s FB post that “a particular political party” were not Christians. The niece was seeking advice about how to respond. Mother Mary advised her that in these types of situations it is very important to use “I” messages. That is, sharing how you feel and why, but not hurling insults or making accusations. She encouraged her to remind the cousin of the love between them, how she was hurt by her post, and to ask her not to post such messages in the future. It takes a lot of love to react in this manner, but as mature Christians, that is what we are called to do. Overcome the desire to strike back because that leads to bigger problems and quite often, a fracturing of relationships.
The homily ended with a prayer for the gift of God’s loving spirit. May we all rest and grow in this prayer as we pray it often.
Gracious Lord, we know that you are the source of all that is good, all that is loving, righteous, and true. We know that you want us to have the same spirit so that we can be your hands and feet and mouth in the world today. So help us Lord. Give us your spirit of love… and where we are blocked and stuck, give us the courage to face our issues, that our hearts and minds may be open to receiving all that we need to do your will, according to your ways. Amen