Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them. It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always, not just when I am with you.
Just last month eight of our youth affirmed their baptism and celebrated the milestone of confirmation. During our time together, I often tell confirmation students that I have two goals for them: (1) I want them to learn about Jesus and (2) I want them to learn how to be decent human beings.
But here’s the thing, as we learn more about one another that second goal changes. After getting to know these students, I am no longer content for them to be justdecent human beings. They must be extraordinaryhuman beings. Because that’s what they’re capable of being. They are called to be followers of Jesus and to be zealous for God.
And the same applies to allof us, my beloved sisters and brothers in Christ. As part of God’s beloved creation, created in the image of God, we are called to be extraordinaryhuman beings, too. We have been created to be extraordinary, to be disciples of Christ, to be zealous for God and God’s good purpose.
So the question then is this: For what good purpose will we be zealous? What is it that we will be passionate about and actively seek to achieve that is alsoin line with God’s good purpose?
At Bible study, we talked about loving the neighbor because that is the second greatest commandment, the first being to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:36-38). But to say “love your neighbor” is such a general, vague, wishy-washy statement. And when we’re confronted with a general, vague, wishy-washy statement, we often don’t think too much more about it.
This commandment gets lost in the busyness of life and our neighbor gets forgotten… until it’s convenient for us to remember them. And so here is our call as the body of Christ: to love our neighbors ALL THE TIME. When it’s easy, when it’s hard. When it’s convenient, when it’s inconvenient. When it’s a neighbor we like, when it’s a neighbor we’re not particularly fond of. ALL THE TIME. So, what will you do?
Be zealous for the Lord and passionate about God’s good purposes. Love your neighbors… ALL of them. Be extraordinary human beings. Because by the grace of God, you already are.