In the magnificent tapestry of scripture, threads interconnect without breaking forming one of the most profoundly beautiful and yet complex documents ever created. Following the connected threads helps me understand God, His purposes, ways, and character. Without those connections I might stand too far back gazing only at the overall beauty of the whole work or zero in on one tiny piece of stitchwork and misinterpret the message.
So it is that when I read a verse or two, like 1 Peter 2:15-16 which were YouVersion.com’s verses for August 30, 2013, I consider their meaning and application first alone and then praying begin to trace the thread that enables me to understand how I am to live in the world today.
Looking first at the two verses: “It is God’s desire that by doing good you should stop foolish people from saying stupid things about you. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Live as servants of God.” (1 Peter 2:15, 16 NCV) I find the threads I need to follow, do good, stop foolish folks from talking about me, live free, do not use freedom as an excuse to do whatever I please, and live as a servant of God. Right off, with only those verses, I see the potential of tangling the handwork stitches and having to undo the mess.
My Mom was an expert seamstress and did beautiful embroidery also. She tried to teach her only daughter, me, a girl with no patience and ten thumbs how to follow a pattern, take tiny stitches and look at both the back and the front of the piece, checking for knots or other clumps of thread. Theoretically the finished piece should look almost as good on the back as the front. Needless to say, Girl with ten thumbs spent more time ripping out stitches than creating them and the front while not perfect looked a darn sight better than the back.
In my study of scripture I have at times managed to to take the tiny perfect stitches of God’s Word and knot them up in the application. So, I have learned to pray and let the Holy Spirit call to remembrance my thread for the day.
Today, God led me first to Galatians: But the Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. There is no law that says these things are wrong. (Galatians 5:22, 23 NCV)
Ah! So these are the qualities of doing good, the kind of good that quiets the tongues of those who do not know Christ as it says in the 1 Peter passage. Doing good involves staying attached to the vine, so the fruit get all the nutrients needed to ripen to perfection. Doing good with God isn’t ME trying to do good things, it is God with me in every situation showing the world Who He is. Doing good is more about abiding than acting, but it is not stretching out on God’s lounge chair, soaking up the rays, either. The good God desires manifests itself as worship from the center of my core.
As I absorbed the pattern of all living and doing good with God reveals in my life, I encounter what freedom really means and so I follow the thread further along to find: “So if the Son makes you free, you will be truly free.” (John 8:36 NCV).
The freedom of God differs from man’s imitation of freedom, no matter how good that may appear. God’s freedom removes the bonds of sin, death, self-seeking, people pleasing; God’s freedom removes the knots I allow the world, myself, and my sinful leanings to tangle in me. God’s freedom requires that I submit to his work in me…that I choose to live free in His kingdom.
And so on this Friday morning, the scripture from 1 Peter 2:15-16 lets me follow these threads to better understanding and application for this day. That is one of the marvels of God’s Word…it is unchanging and yet it is New every morning!. Tomorrow I might read the same and be led to another thread, so it is with God’s Word, this marvelous tapestry of truth, the patterns are many and as I come to it each time, He meets me and leads me as I am ready to see.
Standing too near distorts, standing too far away blurs, but observing the whole and then following the threads opens our eyes to the vista of abundant life God intends for us each and every day.
Wherever you are, no matter your circumstances ( I am recovering from surgery), Live the good life God desires to exhibit in you, freely, doing no harm, and let people know you belong to him.