by Carolyn Ehrlich
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Mark out a straight path … Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God (Hebrews 12:12a,15).
In our modern and western world, we are often told we have an individualistic culture. We have moved away from a sense of community and look out for ourselves and our close family. We work hard to make sure that we provide for ourselves and our families. We plan for our first car, our first home, our work and our retirement. We are proud of what we do. And in our faith walk, many of us go about our daily lives separately, individually, coming together for worship on Sundays, maybe.
But here, the writer instructs us to do something completely different. We are to look out for one another. We are to make paths straight and level – so that no-one is disabled. Whoa … we are to take responsibility for others in our community. You and I are to make the faith walk of others straight and level. You and I are to look out for others. You and I are not to cause trouble. You and I are to see to it that no-one is immoral. You and I are to ensure that no-one is godless. You and I – not the pastor or elders or church council. You … me …
Why must we look out for others? Why must we mark out straight paths? Because ‘without holiness, no-one will see the Lord’ (verse 14b).
How must we mark out a straight path? Verse 14 tells us, ‘Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy’. A straight path is a holy path. We are being instructed to live out a holy life – to live in peace with everyone (yes, even the person we dislike the most). Living in peace means being on the lookout for the poison of bitterness. This is not just a one-hour-on-a-Sunday thing. We are to make every effort to live in peace with everyone – every second of every minute, hour, day and week. And we cannot do that without having our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus. We cannot do this without the Holy Spirit filling us and leading us always.
Loving Father, thank you for loving me. You desire that everyone loves you. You are asking me to live as part of my community, every moment of every day. You are asking me to walk a straight walk with you and live peacefully with everyone else in my community so that their path is straight too. I cannot do what you are asking without you. Holy Spirit, lead me as I go about this day and week. Show me who I need to live in peace with. Take my feeble arms and weak knees and strengthen them so that I can walk out my day and week as a follower of Jesus. In Jesus’ awesome name, I pray. Amen.