Companions; September 26, 2022

Psalm 119:79 May those who fear you turn to me,
those who understand your statutes.

I chose this verse from reading it in the NIV, but then I read it in Japanese and noticed an interesting distinction: where the NIV says “turn to me,” the Japanese says, “return to me.” In either case, the Psalmist is desiring likeminded companions. Frankly, it can be exhausting to be surrounded by people who don’t seek God, much less know Him and His Word. We frequently hear the term, echo chamber, used in a negative way for people who never want to hear anything with which they disagree. In principle that’s true enough, but the fundamental attitude is the issue. Problems come when we mistake peripheral issues for core principles. That has probably caused the majority of Church splits down through the centuries. We aren’t to refuse to associate with people with whom we disagree, but we need to set boundaries. Jesus was famous for associating with “sinners,” but He also insisted on repentance. (Matthew 18:15-17) Our close relationships need to be with people who will draw us closer to God, not pull us away from Him. That said, we need to be available to draw others closer to God, and not drive them away with a holier-than-thou attitude. None of us knows God perfectly, and our grasp of Him is uneven, to put it mildly. Even someone who seems to be a “so-so Christian” might have a piercing insight on one particular point. We need to be humble enough to learn from anyone.

This is a good point for me to ponder. I have been familiar with the Bible from childhood, but I have run into countless people who have challenged me on various points, moving me from head knowledge to application. I tend to be a “dispenser of knowledge,” but I want to be someone who will walk with others, drawing them closer to God as I learn more of Him through them. It’s taken me a long time to learn that I really need other people! As someone who majored in Drama in college, I tend to be “an introvert who acts like an extrovert.” I learned early on that I can act in ways that I don’t feel, and I need to be extra careful about hypocrisy. I want to be the kind of person people gravitate to when they want to walk with God.

Father, thank You for this Word, and for all You did in the day yesterday. Thank You that the service went well, despite the lack of a pianist. Thank You that the engagement ceremony for the neighboring pastor went well. I was very touched when he said that I am a father figure to him. The situation with Cathy’s pain is very intense, but You have carried us along to this point. I pray that we would be able to get in touch with her doctor early this morning, and that everything from there on would be exactly as You know is right and necessary, not only for Cathy’s and my sake but as a testimony to all who know of us and our situation, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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