Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
November 10th, 2008

Daniel Patrick O'Reilly

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Today’s scripture readings are a mixed bag. On first read, the first two scripture readings were depressing. In Titus, Paul instructs Titus in his task of appointing presbyters in the churches in every town. And there are some qualifications to be a presbyter. You have to be blameless, married only once, and your children have to be believers who cannot be accused of licentiousness or of being rebellious. Paul has obviously not raised teenagers. Paul then launches into a list for bishops. Blameless, not arrogant, not irritable, not a drunkard and the list goes on. The psalmist asks, who can ascend the mountain of the Lord? He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean, who desires not what is vain. In Luke, Jesus is more encouraging. Things that cause sin will inevitably occur. And, if you just have faith (the size of a mustard seed), you can do incredible things.

Several things on Paul’s lists struck me. Blameless. Jesus makes it clear that things that cause sin will inevitably occur. Everyone sins. The good news is that forgiveness is available and Jesus loves us anyway.

No arrogance. Jesus was the model of humility. Humility does not mean being a door mat or lacking confidence. We should be the most confident people on the planet. Knowing that we are created and loved by God and our purpose is to serve God and man.

No irritability. That one is right up there with blameless. Good luck.

No drunkards. I met a recovering alcoholic recently. He said he had been sober for five years. I congratulated him and asked if he had a home church. He responded that he felt welcomed at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, but not by the church. It made me sad.

My sons play various sports at various levels for Ralston. Ralston’s colors are red, white and blue. When I go to a game, I usually wear red and sit with other Ralston fans. At a recent away game, I arrived late, was wearing black and sat with the opposing crowd. It was a hard fought game and Ralston lost. A mother of a Ralston player was furious. She started to shout at the group of people I was sitting with. I stood and told her that my son played for Ralston, too. I probably should have been kinder.

It’s so easy for us to slide into the position of judge. That person is not wearing the right colors, they’re sitting in the wrong section, with the wrong people. You wonder what God thinks of us when we do this. Like we are holding ourselves up to God so He can see how much better we are than those other people. The problem being, no matter how pretty a mask we wear, God sees our heart.

One of the issues we have in the church today is our lists of rules and regulations. We set the bar and decide who measures up and who fails. We decide who is in and who is out. It should not be that way. This is an incredible challenge. For the church in general and for each of us as followers of Christ. How do we open our arms to all people and still hold on to our faith? How do we discern someone’s actions are wrong and yet withhold judgment of that person? How can God establish a relationship with someone when we reject them in the name of Christ? How do we welcome someone who we feel is doing something that is wrong? It would seem impossible. But Jesus tells us the answer. Forgive, forgive and then forgive, again. And with just a little faith, you can do anything. My prayer today is for those who feel rejected by the church. And for those of us who have a hard time being as accepting as Christ.

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