New perspective on a troubling verse

Some verses are troubling when God seems harsher than we would like him to be.
But sometimes I'm troubled by the verses that seem to promise more good than I experience. I'm prone to wonder "can this indeed be true?"

This is one of those: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!" 2 Cor 5:17

If Christians really are new creations, why are there ugly church splits, bad arguments between fellow Christians, and superficial politeness labeled as close fellowship?

Here's the new perspective I'm coming to. Paul describes the new creation as having come because he's adopting God's eternal perspective. God sees now what he will make of our character when we are in unbroken communion with him and seeing him as he is. We don't see that now, we are still very much in progress, as long as this life lasts. He sees the end now, and views it as a done deal, even though we have a lot of "heres and nows" to get through before that comes.

Paul's detailed exhortations in all his epistles shows that he knows being Christlike in real life is not easy for us. He knows we don't attain godliness just closing our eyes and singing one more chorus of "Kum Ba Yah" or "Awesome God", or going to that one special conference where we finally "get it."

Remembering John Stott

Noted author and preacher John Stott died this week. A sentence in his obituary in the British newspaper Guardian caught my eye.
He insisted that Christians should engage in "double listening" – to the word of God, and to the world around them – and apply their biblical faith to all the pressing issues of contemporary culture.

This resonates with me -- I think we should be scrutinizing the details of what God has promised, we should also scrutinize the details of our circumstances, and seeking God's grace and wisdom for where the two are not consistent.

Wisdom or power?

Ephesians 3:10 says God wants to use the church to display his wisdom.

When I pray for a need, I'm usually hoping God will display his power. Lord, cure this disease, work a miracle, fix it right now! I'm ready to celebrate an instantaneous delivery!

But what if God wants to display his wisdom? What if God wants to show how he can outsmart his enemies, not blast them out of his way? What if he wants to show that walking with him is the best way, even when it doesn't bring immediate ease and prosperity? What if he wants to show how the long hard slog towards the heavenly country, even when we don't see it, is the best way to live?

How to repent of a bad emotion?

Life happens, and you realize you're not reacting well. You're upset when you shouldn't be, or frustrated over nothing (or what should be nothing).

What do you do?

I suspect it is not enough to say to yourself "I shouldn't feel this way, so I won't." It is good to perceive you shouldn't feel this way, but emotions don't turn off just because you decide to stop feeling them. I think the way to proceed is to say to God, "I shouldn't feel this way, but I do. Help me." This expresses our reliance upon God, rather than assuming we can independently control our feelings.

Dwelling in unity

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! Psalm 133:1

How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters care about each other, not just about getting the job done or about doing what the boss wants.

How good and pleasant it is when you can express your concern that someone is being treated unfairly, and you are heard, even if you don't have all the right words to express it.

Unity is not when people agree on every detail -- that probably rarely happens. Unity is when colleagues trust each other enough to express what they really feel, and trust each other enough to listen to how the other feels, without being disappointed or threatened.