Hi Friends! As we spend this week praying for our nation and repenting of personal and corporate sins, I want to bring an area of focus. I believe God is waiting on His people to express love for one another in ways we may not be used to. One of the things that has become evident in our region and country is a spirit of division. Masks or no masks, black lives matter or all lives matter, democrat or republican. With all the rioting taking place in our cities in an election year with a pandemic acting as a pressure cooker, people are concerned that the nation may fall into destructive behavior at new levels. These issues are for sure of concern but we must know that judgment starts in the household of God. We are called to stand in contrast to the patterns of the world.
To stand out and regain our rightful place, we need to set a standard of forgiveness, sacrificial love and unity through the bonds of peace in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Psalm 133 says,
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity! 2 It is like the precious oil upon the head, Coming down upon the beard, Even Aaron’s beard, Coming down upon the edge of his robes. 3 It is like the dew of Hermon Coming down upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forever. (highlighted for emphasis)
How powerful is unity built upon love and forgiveness! I want to encourage us to consider if there are any other people in the Body of Christ that we are avoiding because of a past offense, hurt or perhaps a general indifference to people not in your circle. Sometimes we Christians may avoid outright confrontation with others but can still be harboring disunity in more passive ways like relational avoidance. This past week my wife and I saw an old friend from many years ago on our Facebook feed. We had a falling out and I said things that were wrong and I regret. He accepted my friend request and spoke very graciously to me and my wife. I had the opportunity to ask him to forgive me and experience restoration. One day we hope to see each other in person again and reconnect!
Since coming to Christ, we have not achieved sinless perfection so there are two powerful phrases that are extremely important in our Christian walk. “Please forgive me” and “You are forgiven”. These words have the power to bring healing and restoration in many situations and unity in the Body of Christ!
If there is anyone in the Tri-State churches or ministries that you would not want to see at a gathering and so you would avoid it altogether because of judgments, past hurts OR if in your reflection you realize you may have hurt someone on a personal level or through your ministry responsibilities this would be a good time to make things right.
Note: I am generally focusing on issues that we can resolve in normal ways and regular relational breakdowns. If the issue is of a serious nature, please talk to a pastor or trusted Christian counselor to help walk you through the proper steps.
We should also consider how we view the Body of Christ. If you have a lack of interest or indifference for His people (your brothers and sisters in Christ) if they are not a part of "your" church, then that is a stumbling block as well.
It is good to love your local church family and have a sense of belonging with them but we must also see we are connected to others in our community and work toward their good along with Christ's church in other regions and lands, especially those in great need or are suffering for their faith.
The recent pandemic has opened my eyes to my need to repent for ignoring God's family who makes due with much less than we do and yet would benefit from our love, prayers, and support.
Our Lord Jesus, who gave His life to reconcile us to the Father, deserves better than us representing Him in a factional and fractured way.
So in your reflection, this week, would you consider your relationships and other ministries in this area and ask yourself if there is something you have been avoiding or someone you have been keeping on the hook, or someone you know you have offended that may need to be released. Now is the time to get those things worked out so we can show the world we are His disciples by our love for one another (John 13:35). If you have become aware of indifference of what happens to individuals or other ministries in the area.
Once you allow love to enter into your heart and give the people, situations and difference to God and show love without partiality, you won’t believe how free you are and watch as God moves through His Body in unexpected and amazing ways!
God Bless you all as you trust in the Great Shepherd of Your Soul, Jesus Christ!