Captain Zsakhiem James has served on the police department in Camden, New Jersey for twenty-eight years. He laments the poor judgment and use of force that resulted in the death of George Floyd, and in an interview with World Magazine, he shared that “Camden’s use of force policy has as its foundation ‘sanctity of life.” Of the Floyd incident, James said, “No one trains that way.”
Certainly not, but when use of force becomes routine and life becomes cheap, training fades from memory. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul wrote a short sentence that mirrors this caution:
But that is not the way you learned Christ!”Ephesians 4:20
It seems to me as if he is saying, “No Christian trains that way!” In an uncharacteristic nod to the negative, Paul listed some of the ways in which his Gentile converts were persevering in their old ways. After all, they were newcomers to the way of righteousness, mired in a culture of impoverished values and casual immorality–not unlike us today!
While we never want to be defined by what we aren’t, it is also true that artists are aware that what they are leaving out of their work is just as important as what they are putting into it. Known as “negative space,” it leaves room to see, eliminates clutter, and emphasizes the main message of the work.
Defined by God’s positives, I want to leave behind my old ways, to focus on the way I have “learned Christ,” and to trust in the training that Scripture provides with the goal of maturity measured by right responses–even under pressure.
Lord, we need your help in this process of growing up and growing on “to the measure of the full stature of Christ.” That’s a tall order, and so often we act without thinking. Protect our hearts and our minds from evil and from the easy downward path toward bad habits. May no one ever look at our lives and say, “No one trains that way. That is not the way of Christ.” Thank you that you are faithful; you have called us, and you will do it. Amen.
Under the mercy,
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