This is post #6 of a 16-session blog series entitled The Christ Collection: Putting on the Likeness of Jesus. Each and every day, you and I, as Christ followers, can pull out a few of these beauties and slip into something comfortable. Hand-crafted masterpieces made for this world, so when we wear them, we can go out on Christ’s behalf, shining brightly like the Son. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
Today’s Lectio Divina: Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others. And to all these virtues add love, which is the perfect bond. Colossians 3: 12-14 (NET)
Some might say…
Didn’t we already cover this Garment in the Christ Collection when we talked about Kindness?
Kindness & Gentleness.
Aren’t they the same?
Well, in English, you might be right. But when we turn to the New Testament Greek used in Paul’s letter here to the Colossians, it’s obvious we have two different pieces of clothing. Allow me to explain.
Kindness, as we discussed earlier, is all about you and me becoming properly useable or well-fit for good service toward others. But the Greek word used here in Paul’s letter, prautés (pronounced prah-oo’-tace) takes on a much different meaning than kindness, gentleness, or as the old King James Bible calls it: meekness.
In truth, the very best translation of this Greek word, prautés, is:
A gentle strength which expresses power with reserve.
You see, when Paul is speaking to Christ-followers in Colossae, prautés conveys a gentle-force, a divinely-balanced virtue that begins quietly with the Lord’s inspiration but finishes by His direction and empowerment.
As I see it, one of the best examples of prautés at work in our modern day was Dr. Martin Luther King’s non-violent approach to the evils of racism in American culture. In the 1950’s and 60’s, many African-Americans were beginning to address this long-standing hatred and prejudice toward blacks. While some, like Malcolm X and others, advocated violence, Dr. King, a Baptist pastor from Montgomery, Alabama, believed the best approach to injustice was not through anger or violence, but by demonstrating a strong message of peace and love. And, as history shows us, it was MLK’s approach of non-violent protests that actually turned the tide of the Civil Rights Movement in America.
Interestingly enough, Dr. King credits two major sources for his inspiration to pro-active non-violence:
Jesus of Nazareth and Mahatma Gandhi.
Let me quote Becky Little from her excellent article on Dr. King found at the Biography.com website:
“Nonviolence” is a more than simply agreeing that you won’t physically attack your enemy. Gandhi referred to his form of nonviolence as satyagraha, (pronounced set-jah-gra-ha) meaning “truth-force” or “love-force.” Practicing satyagraha means a person should seek truth and love while refusing, through nonviolent resistance, to participate in something they believe is wrong. This principle guided Gandhi’s activism against the British Empire, helping India win independence in 1947.
Dr. King first learned of Gandhi’s concept of nonviolence as a seminary student. As a Christian, he connected the Hindu thinker’s words to the Biblical appeal of Jesus to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
(Dr. King wrote) “I came to see for the first time that the Christian doctrine of love operating through the Gandhian method of nonviolence was one of the most potent weapons available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom.” King was already familiar with peaceful civil disobedience through American writers like Henry David Thoreau, and he liked Gandhi’s idea that oppressed people could use truth or love as weapons in their struggle for justice. But he didn’t find a practical application for how to put it to use until he became involved in the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955 and ‘56.
In his 1958 book Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, King laid out the principles of nonviolence he’d employed during the boycott. He affirmed that it is possible to resist evil without resorting to violence and to oppose evil itself without opposing the people committing evil. He also wrote that people who practice nonviolence must be willing to suffer without retaliation, internal or external: “The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him.” (King wrote)
“He saw [nonviolence] as an expression of love for all people,” says Clayborne Carson, a history professor and director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. “It’s a way of reaching people and convincing them of the rightness of your cause.”
Shortly after the Supreme Court ruled that Montgomery’s bus segregation was unconstitutional, King told a crowd in Brooklyn: “Christ showed us the way, and Gandhi in India showed it could work.”
The Garment of Prautés.
Gentleness: A gentle-force of peace, truth, and love.
A virtue that’s much needed in our world today.
For God’s sake, and for ours as well.
My Prayer: Thank You, God, for the way Your Son, Jesus, modeled gentleness on our behalf. While meek and mild in spirit, Christ also stood firm for truth, honor, and justice in a world where those qualities were rarely displayed. Thank You, as well, that we can find others who have gone before us who have also modeled this gentle-force of peace, truth, and love. Holy Spirit, empower me with this same prautés (gentleness) so that I, too, can stand for what’s right. For Your glory and for Your name’s sake. Amen.
A Few Thoughts to Ponder: Sadly, I have taken the English translations of this Greek word prautés (i.e. gentleness and meekness) and believed it to be something it actually isn’t. In The Message Bible, Eugene Peterson rightly translates this word as “quiet strength.” What might Holy Spirit-empowered “quiet strength” look like in my life, and how might I use it, like Dr. King, to make a huge difference in my world where injustice still abounds?
So, what are you experiencing as we ponder upon Colossian’s Christ Collection?
We hope you’ll enjoy these 16 blogs that focus on the amazing garments and accessories God has hand-crafted for us so that as we wear them, we can better reflect the nature and likeness of Jesus of Nazareth. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!
Pingback: The Christ Collection: Humility. | The Contemplative Activist (TCA)