When We Don’t Come Together

I drank coffee with a friend this morning–a precious older sister with an incredible testimony of God’s grace and a life to back it up. She only has ten years on me, but she has six beautiful grandkids and has visited over 20 countries. A few years ago, she moved halfway across the states to start over again (goodbye, California; hello, Missouri!) and that’s how we got to connect over a Bible-study table.

[Disclaimer: After I wrote this blog, I read this blog post by Randy Alcorn. As usual, he says it better than I can. So, if you only have time to read one post, read his.

As we swapped passion and truth regarding our country, culture, and families, she made the comment that “it’s everywhere.” This disunity, this rude ugliness that shames and ostracizes and rejects, runs viral in the families we know.

I told her, “Doesn’t much look like Jesus.”

“Nope, it’s because it’s Satan’s work.” She leaned in and added, “He wants to mess up our families, steal our joy, and plague us with fear. We can’t let him steal our joy or keep us in fear.”

I’m thankful that through the whole chaos, disorder, brainwashing, and fear-manipulation that many of my close community has remained anchored. From beginning to end, my mom has kept steady. She hasn’t been afraid, for she has the Holy Spirit, the truth of science based on hours of research, and a confident assurance that she knows where she is going (should a virus that only kills less than 2 percent actually take her life). Over the years, she’s had to say goodbye to her husband, face hardships and rejection from her kids, and wrestle with the loneliness that comes from feeling sidelined. She could have given in and given up–become a recluse and let a life of purposelessness swallow her whole. But she fought back with joy and intention. She goes to women’s Bible study (2 of them actually), she pours into the hurting and rejected, she opens up her heart more and more to those who are trustworthy and loving… and she seeks the Lord, ever clinging to the truth that “He is enough!”

Brokenness, disunity and apathetic coldness leeches our families, like a vampire that sucks all the lifeblood from their hearts, saying, “I have no time or love for you.”

Again, I ask the question, “Where is Jesus in all of this?”

May be an image of 5 people and text that says 'Jesus spent His whole life ENGAGING the people most of us have spent our whole lives trying to avoid. Bob Goff'

The Son of God reached out to the unreachable: the lepers, prostitutes, and tax collectors. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.” (Romans 12:16).  His disciples weren’t afraid to reach out to those who were sick or unwanted. The love of God supersedes all concerns, fears, insecurities, and selfishness. And the truth sets us free. We don’t have to be afraid.

We are to make every effort to live in peace and mutual edification (Romans 14:19), but what if others will have nothing to do with us? Do we cater to to the whims and manipulation of others, for the sake of peace? Do we buy into the fantasies or lies of others just so we can spend a holiday together? Peace purchased at the sacrifice of reality and freedom is a volcano covered with palm leaves. Eventually the top will blow off and many will get burned. True friendship is about mutual edification, not about one person taking while the other just gives and gives.

TRUTH HAS TO REIGN SUPREME

There can’t be peace and unity void of truth. Scripture tells us that the truth sets us free; so, the inverse must also be true. Lies bind us in chains. If one party is permitted to do and say whatever they wish while the other has to deny themselves and not make waves, cohesive and meaningful relationship is impossible. You see not friendship but co-dependent disadvantage.

When you look at the Church, you should see unity–not because we all just keep our mouths shut and have passive personalities, but because we are undivided on our core beliefs. We look different and act in various ways, but our foundation hasn’t shifted.

Lately, I’ve seen numerous families torn apart because of this current vaccine. What’s changed? Statistically, this virus is no more dangerous than the others. Your percentage of survival is over 98%, so why are we acting so polarized and dramatic? Despite the fact that influenza kills thousands of people every year, we don’t hold a stop sign at our door and say, “Are you masked? Do you have your flu shot?” If not, no entry. What? When did that become our mode of operation?

Although TRUTH HAS TO REIGN SUPREME, not every conviction and belief has to be a point of contention. I have close friends who have been vaccinated. And I have some that haven’t been. And believe it or it, I have some friends where I just don’t know. We don’t talk about it. No big deal. Not a hill we need to climb together. I have friends who homeschool. And I have sisters who don’t. I have friends who breastfeed and those who used formula. I have friends who eat organic and never wear make-up and I have friends who wear fake lashes and always eat out. I have friends who are Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, hippies, and atheists. They know where my convictions lie and they know Whose viewpoint matters to me. If they let me, I can love them well, without fighting over every hill we see differently.

CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES.

Sadly, many of the disunifying contentions I see are between self-professed Christians. At the end of the day–at the end of this life–we are all going to end up with Jesus in Heaven, so should we be letting a minor thing become a major thing in our relationship?

“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4)

Satan always hates Christian fellowship; it is his policy to keep Christians apart. Anything which can divide saints from one another he delights in. He attaches far more importance to godly intercourse than we do. Since union is strength, he does his best to promote separation.

–Charles Spurgeon

We must fight back against the real enemy, and it’s not your neighbor or your family member, my friend. See it for what it is and attack the right person. By the way, in case you didn’t know, he wants to destroy you. Satan wants your family to implode. He delights to see children pitted against one another and against their parents. There’s a pandemic of disrespect, victimization, and entitlement.
John 10:10 reminds us that “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

WALK IN HUMILITY AND FORGIVENESS

If we fail to recognize the dangers of pride and how ignorance, selfishness, and entitlement make us isolated and susceptible than we have fallen for the oldest sin there is. What did Lucifer desire above all else? What did he also tempt Eve with? To be like God. To be “above it all” and to “know like God knows”. This temptation allures us into a false sense of security which ultimately imprisons us and isolates us from all healthy relationships.

If we are going to live in unity, we need to live with compassionate hearts and an attitude that reflects the mercy of our God.

“On the essentials, unity. On the nonessentials, liberty. In everything, charity.”- Jack Hyles

Don’t let the enemy of God and your soul, the culture of this world, or the blind selfishness of man rob you of your joy. We are here for two reasons: to love God and love others. Does the Bible command us to love ourselves? To look out for “number one” and do whatever it takes to be comfortable and safe? Hardly. And yet, we often act like we have a free pass to operate as if that is our highest priority. In all things, submit to God and seek His face. And remember, I am third.

If the world started moving as “I am third” (God first, people second, me last), our problems would be solved. When God is in His rightful place in our lives, unity naturally follows.

“As God is exalted to the right place in our lives, a thousand problems are solved all at once.” AW Tozer

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