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FAITH FOCUS: Choosing the spiritual over the carnal


“Forgiveness flounders because I exclude the enemy from the community of humans and exclude myself from the community of sinners.” —Miroslav Volf

Isn’t it strange how we constantly justify our actions to ourselves while at the same time harboring a spirit of superiority over others? It’s so easy to judge others based on their actions but to judge ourselves based on our intentions.

This isn’t how Jesus teaches us to live. It’s a carnal, unspiritual and depraved soul who continues to ridicule others even in the face of their own sin – and yet, even the most pious among us slip into this way of thinking occasionally.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus points out some things He values and wants His followers to value. These things are contrasted against things that are valued by those who refuse to live in His righteousness. The things Jesus values are weakness, sacrifice, grief and exclusion. He’s not teaching that we must desire these things, but that when they come, we recognize their value in deepening our trust and faith in God.

The contrasting worldly values He notices are power, comfort, success and recognition. Jesus isn’t teaching that His followers should refuse these things but that we should suspect them. A Christian must not allow a desire for power, comfort, success or recognition control them.

Instead, Christians must be led by the Holy Spirit. The greatest power to be found is in Christ; the most meaningful comfort is that of victory over death; the deepest success is conquering our own doubts and fears through His cross; and the only worthwhile recognition is that of being recognized by God in Christ! These things belong to every faithful Christian.

So, when weakness is apparent, when sacrifice must be made, when grief comes into our experience and when we are excluded by those we want to be with, our strength to overcome these obstacles is found in the Lord.

Let’s all learn to give others the benefit of the doubt. Let’s do to others what we’d want them to do to us! What a community we could build in mutual respect and in admiration of a Savior’s love for every single person.

So, as we become the love Jesus calls us to, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control will be evident in our relationships with everyone we encounter!

Trae Durden has been the preaching minister at North Highlands church of Christ in Russellville since January 2013. He is married to Leann Durden, and they have a daughter, Darcy Grace, and a son, Dalton.