From: Rich Carlson
Date: December 11, 2019
Subject: It's December 11; Good Morning Union

“I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, SO THAT…”     Philemon 6

A little tiny book that’s so small it doesn’t even have chapters—just verses! It’s a quick note from Paul to a man named Philemon who owned a run-away slave that Paul was returning to him now that this slave, named Onesimus, had become a convert to Christianity. Paul appeals to Philemon to not accept Onesimus back as a slave but as a brother in Christ.

But the verse that captured my musings this morning is number 6: “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, SO THAT you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” I liked the correlation between sharing my faith and fully understanding “every good thing I have in Christ!”

Turn it around, and IF I would like to understand fully every good thing I have in Christ, I can do this by sharing my faith! Pretty clear. For maximum impact I must participate in both intake and output. I can’t keep consuming without expending. I can’t keep getting without giving. I can’t keep taking without providing. I cannot understand God fully, says Paul, unless I share my faith. Turn THAT idea around and, if I give I have more room to receive. It’s true in the physical world; it’s true also in the spiritual world.

“Sharing my faith” has sometimes gotten a bad wrap because it can too easily be equated with the pushing salesman-type approach of in-your-face forcing my beliefs on you. For me that is not sharing my faith, that’s forcing my faith! Sharing is a gesture of kindness, in words, attitudes, gifts, or whatever. When it seems intimidating to “share my faith” I start with praying for people, then befriending whomever I can that crosses my path, then looking for something we might have in common, then developing a friendship at whatever level feels comfortable. In the process my attitude, my actions, and yes even my words should portray the difference God has made in my life, and THAT for me is “sharing my faith.” It’s not something I do, it’s something I am! And when I am being filled with Jesus and wanting more of Jesus, then I need to let some of the Jesus in me get out to others. The result, says my verse for today, is that I will be able to understand more and receive more of everything good about Christ. Pretty cool process I find!

Peter confirms this with a famous "share your faith text," He says, "Always be prepared to give an answer TO ANYONE WHO ASKS YOU to give a reason for the hope that is in you." 1 Peter 3:15. I want to be ready, WHEN THEY ASK, not when I choose! It's  not what I do, it's who I am. He prefaces this thought with "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord," and concludes with, "and do this with gentleness and respect, having a clear conscience." First I commit my life to Christ as Lord of my life, then I am ready when someone asks me about my faith, to share it with them. and I do it with kindness!

Jesus, you are Lord of my life again today. Help me be attentive and responsive, in a kind and gentle way, to the people around me, to what they need from me, not what I want to give them..

Have a great day emptying so you can be filled and being filled so you can empty,

Pastor Rich

Quote for the Day:      “Every day should be distinguished by at least one particular and specific act of love and kindness toward someone who cannot pay you back.”