Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 119:73-80; 145, Genesis 41:46-57, 1 Corinthians 4:8-20 (21), Mark 3:7-19a
Our faith assures us that God knows us intimately inside and out. Psalm 119 declares: “Your hands have made and fashioned me.” All through our lives God actively shapes and reshapes us body, mind and soul. All who encountered Jesus were changed, usually spiritually, sometimes physically — and occasionally by name. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say Jesus revealed their true selves.
When Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter (“the rock”), he predicted Peter would be the rock upon which the church was founded. But Jesus was not without a sense of humor. Being rock-like also implies stubbornness, and Peter had that quality in abundance. At the beginning of his journey with Jesus, Peter was not particularly self-aware, but over time Christ transformed Peter’s character flaws into some of his greatest strengths. What other than faithfully applied stubbornness could have seen the Christian church through its early stages?
Then we have the disciples (and brothers) James and John, or as Jesus called them, “The Sons of Thunder.” They were outspoken and quick to action. These traits didn’t always pay off as intended, but once the brothers learned to temper them with wisdom, they became central to Jesus’s mission both before and after his resurrection.
Paul is another example of repurposed character. As Saul he zealously persecuted Christians, but after his conversion he was even more dedicated to spreading the Gospel. Such single-mindedness is not within most people’s grasp, but it equipped Paul especially well for his calling.
What character traits would you change about yourself? Is it possible God built them into you for a reason, and what really needs to change is how you understand and use them? Justice is often fueled by anger, and success by stubbornness (masquerading as “persistence”). God did not create you to be someone you’re not. When we feel convicted to change something about ourselves, it’s worth asking Christ how he might reshape that thing toward a better use. Raw dough is inedible but has the same ingredients as delicious bread. Sometimes we only need to bake a while longer to rise to our potential.
Comfort: God knows and loves you, for he created you just as you are.
Challenge: Make a list of what characteristics trouble you. Pray about how you can look at them differently to serve God.
Prayer: God of creation, thank you for making me in your image. Help me to understand what that means for my life. Help me to shape my gifts to best serve your Kingdom. Help me appreciate the gifts you have given others. Give me ears to hear the new name you have for me. Amen.
Discussion: What about yourself have you had to learn to love (or are still learning to)?
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