I’ve been reading a serious book by Greg Harris called The Cup and the Glory. It starts out in the gospels where the disciples ask Jesus to give them places of honor when He comes into His glory. Jesus told them that they did not know what they were asking, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
Harris points out that the disciples didn’t have a clue what it would take to make them ready to receive the request that they asked. He skillfully shows that many of our prayers in general, and even the deepest and truest desires of our hearts to become more spiritual, more like Jesus, are accompanied by a blindness to what God needs to do to answer our prayers.
It isn’t that God is unable to do what we ask. He can in a heartbeat. But we block Him. We ask for patience and He sends tribulation (“tribulation produces patience,” Romans 5:3), then we pray and ask Him to deliver us from the tribulation. We don’t know what we ask.
I have been praying for unsaved family for years. I’ve often felt that God is not doing what only He can do in their lives because I need to change, that I’m not ready for the answer. Either that, or He is using this situation to build faith and patience in me, to test my faithfulness, to help me draw closer to Him.
At the same time, I don’t want to be a hindrance to His blessing in the lives of anyone, never mind those so close to my heart. So this morning, I asked Him to show me what He needs to do in me before He answers those prayers. At least then I can cooperate instead of fighting whatever He sends to change me, to make me ready for what He will do.
I’m sure that this morning’s request will take a long time to answer, but for today, He takes me to Ephesians 4:1-3. It says, “I, therefore, (Paul) the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
At first this seemed an odd answer. Then I remembered the Lego lesson from yesterday and looked for specific directions. I found them in a section of the Bible Knowledge Commentary. It says, “Attitudes of humility, gentleness, and patience foster unity among Christians. Having stated these three virtues, Paul then stated the manner in which they are to be carried out in one’s conduct: bearing with one another in love and making every effort (the Gr. has a participle, ‘making every diligent effort’) to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Christians are not to make unity but to keep or guard what God made in creating the ‘one new man’ (Eph. 2:15-16). They are to keep this unity ‘through the bond’ which consists of ‘peace.’ Concern for peace will mean that Christians will lovingly tolerate each other, even when they have differences.”
My next steps are now clearer. Learn more of humility, gentleness, and patience. These virtues will show up in how I interact with my church family. I’m to be more concerned about unity and peace than I am about our differences, so begin there.
I wonder if these attitudes will spill over into my relationships with our unsaved family? No doubt. However, for right now, I’m to see the face of Christ and ask Him to demonstrate in me His lowliness, kindness and long-suffering. I already know I can’t do this without Him.
At the same time, I think about Harris’ book. It is a joy and a wonder to be like Jesus because He fills me with Himself and shines through me. It is quite a different experience to have the Holy Spirit go to work on me and get rid of all that which is not like Jesus. In this case, it is my pride, my harsh or a hard attitudes, and my impatience.
What will it take? I don’t know, but that is the cup that He asks me to drink.