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VIDEO: FAITH: Finding balance while setting boundaries

Rev. Brad McKenzie

Often, we must manage other’s expectations of us and deal with how their perception of our personality, actions, and words can both positively and negatively impact relationships and influence.  Many, including myself, desire a life which is simple, full of joy, seldom has drama, and goes along with a general ease and flow.  Many though, again including myself, often find life to be a consistent battle with even the simplest circumstances becoming dramatic and complex with drama and tension easily found, even in relationships assumed to be solid and dependable.  Finding balance along with setting boundaries can be a continual journey with the hope of someday achieving at least a form of serenity in a few of life’s avenues.

One of the things I truly love about the Advent and Christmas seasons, or at least the seasons in my memory, is how most people have a bit more joy and many work to practice the sentiment of “peace on earth, good will toward humanity!”  During this season, we all have the tendency to give gifts or remembrances to family, friends, and even the person who delivers the Amazon boxes.  We seem to put aside some of the tension and resentment we feel towards some of those family, friends, and service providers by showing love and grace, even if with just intentional kind words and the mention of “Merry Christmas!”  Oh, how I wish we could hold onto the spirit of Christmas, even after the season is over.

What if we could, or more importantly would, carry the spirit of the Christmas season with us for more than just the five weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve?  It does not seem impossible to truly be Christlike, which is the true spirit of Christmas, in how we respond, not react, to the people to the people and circumstances in our lives the other 47 weeks of the year.  I am convinced so much of the tension and drama many people create in relationships, groups, and families could be seriously mitigated if we would legitimately practice the golden rule.

“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”  Matthew 7:12

These are the word of Jesus, yet we often ignore them because they do not fit within the paradigm of our personal rights and preferences.  Most people today only like the words of Jesus that promise eternal life and God’s love.  Many just desire to hear from preachers who proclaim only great blessings and benefits for Christians without any true sacrifice or servanthood required.  Many Christians, because of the churches they attend, are drawn to discounted accountability and commitment as if a church offers a weekend sale on all new salvations with a 35% discount on surrender, no coupon required.

Jesus also said: “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” Matthew 7:1-2

Yet again another one of the sayings of Jesus most Christians intentionally ignore, because most Christians believe they are good and without fault while everyone else in their lives have much to correct and need someone to point those things out.  As well, many believers are happy accept behaviors in themselves they would never accept in other people.  My how we have turned the message of Jesus upside down to fit how we want to live.

My conviction is this.  If you do not want to listen to the way Jesus said it, maybe this will help.  Let us all do this: “Just Be Real, Just Be Nice, and Just Be Faithful.”  Being real is not telling everyone everything about you, it is being truthful about who you are and what God has done in your life, not buying into the lies and propaganda of our culture, especially social media.  Being nice, well this is what it says, BE NICE TO PEOPLE!  This is not hard to understand but we make it difficult.  Treat people the way you want to be treated, even when they do not return the grace.  Faithfulness is necessary in our relationship with God and others.  Part of this faithfulness is found in being real and nice.  We are faithful to God when we value and love people.  This is how we show our love!

So, Sunday is July 25th.  22 weeks until Christmas!  We have 22 weeks, not just a month, to practice being real, being nice, and being faithful!  The ball is in your court!  You are Valued and Loved, Pastor Brad

Rev. Brad McKenzie is Lead Pastor at Orange First Church of the Nazarene, 3810 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Orange.