Sunday, June 7, 2020

Things Will Be Changing For Me

If there is anything I've learned from the challenges of 2020 thus far, it is that I need to be encouraging, not divisive! Our nation is divided over almost every single thing...right down the middle! "Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing." (1 Thessalonians 5:11) Isn't it interesting that Paul urges the folks in Thessalonica to do the right thing, even though he acknowledges that they ARE doing the right thing? That's how important encouraging and building up each other are. Encouragement and building up folks bring about Godly peace that protects the unity of the Spirit. 

I've heard the old saying for most of my life, "We can agree to disagree". What this really says is, "I understand not everyone will agree with my point, and my opinion, and that's Ok." It also says, "I understand I will not always agree with everyone's point, and their opinion, and that too is Ok." Through social media, (the platform upon which we've learned to express our opinions quite freely and emphatically - with or without adequate fact checking), we have elevated the disagreement factor to all-time highs. The factor is so high it is separating close friends, even family! 

We've had way too many harsh words launched from our mouths lately. Harsh words reap strife and stirs up anger. Gentle answers literally turn away wrath and reap peace. "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Proverbs 15:1) Imagine how many debates and hair splitting battles could have been avoided (and unity protected) if we'd just given a gentle answer. A gentle answer comes from a heart that understands people are more important than my  personal opinion. A harsh word is more concerned with personal opinion being imposed upon someone else. You know, "I'm right. You are wrong!" However, the greatest WRONG is not an opposing opinion, but the truth that division is being propagated, not eliminated. 

Division has always been the enemy of unity, even in the church. Jesus said, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls." (Luke 11:17) May Jesus open our eyes to the reality that division kills! It kills families. It kills relationships. It destroys churches. It separates intimate friends, and it destroys entire nations.

ccording to the Apostle Paul, we Christians are to walk in a manner worthy of the call on our lives. We are to walk in humility and gentleness. We are to walk with patience, tolerating each other in the love of God. Paul said we must be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit. How? Through the BOND of peace. (See Ephesians 4:1-3) The Holy Spirit brings the unity, and always will. But our responsibility as Christians is to make peace in potentially volatile situations. Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." (Matthew 5:9) 

Here is something we must learn if we are to be peacemakers and protectors of the Spirit of unity. "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others." (Philippians 2:3-4) If we (by the Holy Spirit), are to regard one another as more important than ourselves, this includes other's opinions also. No, we don't have to agree on everything with everyone. But if we esteem them higher than ourselves, we should also be committed to protecting the unity Jesus has established between us. No opinion, no debate, no disagreement, and no argument is more important that.

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