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The Rev. Benjamin Bernier: "The Secret of a Blessed Life"
Prydain ^ | 7/18/2006 | The Rev. Benjamin Bernier

Posted on 07/18/2006 4:42:41 PM PDT by sionnsar

From the Rev. Benjamin Bernier of Providence REC in Texas, we have the sermon The Secret of a Blessed Life, which is a quite fitting message for such a time as this. Fr. Bernier's sermon is based on 1 Peter 3:8-15 and Luke 5:1-11, along with Psalm 34, and he looks at the account of Peter's calling as a "fisher of men" and some godly counsel by the Apostle from his Epistles. As Fr. Bernier notes, it is amazing to read the counsel by the Apostle when we remember how he started out:

In the Gospel lesson we read about his conversion, how he fell on his knees in fear asking Jesus to leave, for he was a sinner. But Jesus called him to become a fisher of men. And so his transformation began. When we read St. Peter's letters we are prone to forget the unlikely beginnings of this servant of God while contemplating the finished product.

What enabled this man not only to control his temper but also to become a faithful shepherd for God's people? Did he revealed the secret for such a transformation in life? Yes, he did. In today's epistle lesson he shares with us one of the key principles that lead his own life.

The source from which he derived his teaching is nothing less than the direct contact with Jesus which transformed him from an ordinary fishermen into a master fisher and shepherd of man. In his pastoral letters this primary pastor of God's flock tells us many invaluable lessons concerning how to imitate Jesus and follow him in this fallen world.

It is not an easy task. The world is a dangerous place riddled with all sorts of conflicts and evil. Our society exhibits all the signs of decadence of a dying culture. How can we answer such a challenge? How can we overcome our sinfulness in this world following Christ?

St Peter's first word of advice concerns our state of mind in relation to others. This is where the battle is first fought: in the heart and the mind. He says

8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, compassion, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

If we want to live a blessed life we must grow into a humble mind. A humble mind is not prone to conflict. A proud mind generates conflict. It is not hard to see why. Pride is an undue exaltation of oneself above others. If a man insults me, I have the right to respond in kind, retaliate and even escalate the aggression. Pride is the mindset in which our own interest comes first. Of course when two or more people are putting their own interest first endless conflict and escalation is the only possible outcome.

A humble mind, on the other hand, denies self-interest. It grows as it cares for others more than it cares for itself. Therefore, it avoids the escalation of conflict, it is willing to suffer the insult, take the blow and respond with blessing, sympathy, brotherly love and a tender heart.

The humble mind promotes peace and life. True humility generates an atmosphere of peace, which springs from a heart that values others and is willing to serve them first. This is the heart of Jesus; the heart of true discipleship. The blessed life beings in this tenderness of heart, brotherly love, compassion for others and unity of mind which we must pursue in our relationships with others. These are all characteristics which affect how we relate to each other. Because, no one can grow spiritually without communion with others. We need each other. We grow together.

And this is how it works in practice:

9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

Do not repay evil for evil. Someone hurts you, do not hurt him back. Do not answer an insult with another insult.

Here, the basic mechanisms of self-defence based on the notion of quick retribution and sometimes even pre-emption, are rejected. Here we have a call to patience, endurance and willing self-sacrifice in order to promote peace, when the normal reaction would only augment conflict.

Some people think that the best defence is a good offence and therefore are ready to offend whenever the prospect of conflict arises.

But these sinful strategies of self-defence only promote conflict and effectively drive us away from living in peace with each other. That is why St. James exhorts us to be quick to listen, and slow to respond and slow to anger, because our anger does not promote righteousness, but our patience does.

The apostle clearly tells us to do the opposite to the natural reaction:

On the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

A life of blessing is pursued by becoming a blessing to others. You are blessed by being a blessing. Our words can be instruments of hurt or instruments of healing and life. An insult is a way to hurt others, a blessing on the contrary is a means to heal and love others. Since we have been called to obtain the blessing from God we are held to a higher standard than defending ourselves when offended. This must be reflected in the way we talk to others and in the way we live in this world of conflict.
I believe that this sermon is an excellent reminder of how we should conduct our discourse and our interactions with each other--whether at church, in the home, at work--or on the Internet. May we all have "a humble mind" that we may live a life of blessing to others. My thanks to Rev. Bernier for sharing this with us.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant

1 posted on 07/18/2006 4:42:44 PM PDT by sionnsar
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2 posted on 07/18/2006 4:43:08 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† | Iran Azadi | SONY: 5yst3m 0wn3d, N0t Y0urs | NYT:Jihadi Journal)
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