My heart has been aching for months over what the words and actions of believers are conveying to those who don’t abide in Jesus. Believers have to stop fighting each other on the minuscule things, and start fighting TOGETHER for the massive things. Frankly, I don’t care what denomination, language or worship culture you happen to find yourself. I care about being on the same united team. When Jesus brought his disciples together, he didn’t sit down and quiz them on the Torah and make sure they were legalistically in line with him.
He did the opposite. He simply said, ‘Follow me.’
But how often do we simply follow him?
There are things in this world that are pulling us in different directions. Enforcing misguided priorities lists for our lives. Telling us our beliefs are wrong for a multitude of reasons. Hate spilling and overflowing everywhere. Imbedding in our daily lives negativity and a despair that nothing in the world will never and can never change, so it’s not even worth it to try.
We are shredded by this world, and in the ripping we lose focus and let a film materialize over our eyes in how we see this world. We stop fighting for the things that Jesus calls us to fight for, and I adamantly refuse to stop fighting. But in that fight, I want to be with all of the believers who follow Jesus…I want to move forward together. I believe, have discerned, prayed and heard…God desires the same.
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. Brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? [1 Corinthians 1:10-13]
Paul might as well been saying, ‘Do you want refugees?’ ‘Are you a racist?’ ‘Do you proclaim yourself republican or democrat?’ ‘Are you theologically conservative or liberal?’ ‘Do you worship quietly or loudly?’
Friends, hear me. Jesus Christ is not and will never be divided. If you find yourself creating or existing within division, you need to seriously examine what you believe with a strong dose of discerning through the Holy Spirit.
I have one big, tough question for you…do you love Jesus enough to surrender yourself to his love for you on the cross and live a life following him?
God needs us to show ourselves as a Church full of his presence and point to his Kingdom reigning on earth. Let’s tell Kingdom stories, so those around us see an active and ALIVE and personal God. Let’s be so willing to live in God’s grace that we fully acknowledge our asshole nature. Seriously, if you surrender to Jesus, you are first going to have to acknowledge you are an asshole.
When we fight each other, we aren’t fighting THE fight.
Let’s give each other grace to not judge when we cuss, everyone comes from different backgrounds.
Let’s give each other grace when we don’t agree on drinking, or not drinking, alcohol.
Let’s give each other grace when we worship in different ways.
Let’s give each other grace in each of the different gifts we have been given through the power of the Holy Spirit. Let’s meet people where they are at and not force our individual experiences on them. Let’s learn together as we sink deep into God’s love and leading.
Let’s give each other grace when we don’t have the same opinion. In essence, we are pointing to sin in each other, but isn’t the very disagreement and judging just as sinful? Let’s stop the self-righteous shit. Let’s consider living with the humility and grace Jesus approached all in his path: prostitutes, tax collectors, etc.
Maybe then, while we fight for God’s Kingdom on earth, together…as believers, others might actually see something genuine they want to be a part of, too.
These lyrics from ‘Simple Pursuit’ by Passion keep swirling around my head and heart:
“God take us back, the place we began, the simple pursuit of nothing but you. The innocence of a heart in your hands…God take us back to an unswerving faith and the power of your name. A heart beating for your Kingdom to reign. A church that is known for your presence again. God take us back.”
My heart has been focused on ‘a church that is known for your presence again’ for the entire month of January. And my heart is always beating for God’s Kingdom to reign. I fight my asshole tendencies to represent that every day through my words and actions. And when I fail, I fail because I am a human that is unwilling to surrender to the one I serve in those moments. Essentially, we are all assholes under the Lordship of Jesus. There is a common value there that none can really argue. We all began as sinners, and each day of our lives should be an acknowledgment that we will never be able to purify ourselves. But when we disagree, on theology, politics, or whatever the hot topic issue might be, we make it about the issue and our pride makes it about the need to be right. Not about an honest conversation looking at ALL perspectives with a willingness to agree that God is a mystery and we don’t actually know it all.
This is hard shit. But this hard shit is tearing at the fabric of THE unity of ALL believers. Biblically and through history, when divisions come up it is detrimental to the Kingdom…and consequently opportunities to correct the wrongs of this world. The message becomes one of discord and hate against others, and completely negates our message of unconditional love, grace, reconciliation and inclusion. We end up projecting that we believe Jesus’ sacrifice was a lie…that his entire life was a lie. As a Church, we stall out. We fail our Savior’s sacrifice.
It begs the question, what unity is there among believers in the States? From the outside and to people who do not follow who we follow…it most certainly looks like we are not united. It is the work of forces that fight against us, and any traction we give to those forces by boldly disagreeing and refusing to come together through differing opinions tears us apart at the very core…sometimes in irreparable ways to the body of Christ.
So. I shall ask again, do you love Jesus enough to surrender yourself to his love for you on the cross and live a life following him?
Shall we be the worldwide community of believers God intended us to be? Can we let go of the miniscule things? Will we choose to fight for the massive things? Will we fight injustice as a body of believers?
This asshole chooses to follow him and fight like hell.