Disclosure: As I started to write this post in my mind, it occurred to me that my words could be taken as offensive to people, so I want to start by stating 2 things:
- This is not about you. This is something God has convicted ME of doing. So in the words of an old, wise horseman: “If the shoe fits, wear it. If not, I wasn’t talking to you anyway”. That may be a little curt, but you get the point, right?
- I am choosing my words carefully in the hopes of not offending anyone; nonetheless, if you are offended by anything I say, please let me know so we can discuss it.
God woke me this morning with this thought: Where is the Love?
In reality, I have been asking that question for some time but it wasn’t until the last few days that I have really been able to find answers. I have been absent from church quite a bit this last year due to Lyme disease. But instead of feeling love and compassion from our church family, we have felt criticism, judgment and disconnect. If you read my previous post about pride, you will understand that my focus was on ME. But over the last few days, I have realized I am guilty of having the very attitude I am complaining about.
A couple of friends have recently been involved in things that to the distant Christian eye might appear to be less than godly. I pre-judged what they were doing without fully understanding the details. As I’ve talked with them and given thought and research to what they are doing, I’ve come to realize that they are absolutely in God’s will for their lives. But instead of encouraging and supporting them, I, like so many others, chastised them with negative thoughts and words. If you are one of those people, I am truly sorry and I am asking your forgiveness right now.
My email and blog are both “PHILIPPIJOY”. I chose this because the joy Paul had in writing to the people of Philippi encouraged me to find joy in everything – he had that Pollyanna Glad Game attitude. If you focus on the many times he instructs us to “rejoice”, (knowing that he was writing this letter as a prisoner in Rome where he awaited trial, knowing that he was facing possible death), you can’t help but find joy and hope in the midst of even the most hopeless trials. He is writing to a Christians who are strong in their faith and solid in the doctrine they walk by, but they continue to face normal, human (fleshly) challenges – simply put, the people were not getting along with each other and they were misleading each other with false teachings and arguments. In chapter 4, verse 2, he says: “I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.” In verse 3 he says these women “labored with me in the gospel”. They are women who know God and serve Him. And yet they are at odds. Their division is not likely over something theological or Paul would have addressed the issue in his letter. Instead, he asks them to be of the same mind. He then asks others to help them. I can’t help but think that we here in Red Bluff are doing the same thing. We fuss at each other over things that don’t matter. We judge each other over issues that are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. And we don’t seek to be of the same mind.
So what does it mean to be of the same mind?
- Do we silencing them by belittling their efforts? Do we challenge their ideas by spouting biblical verses that appear on face value to condemn them? That’s what I’ve done. That’s what many have done.
- Do not despise them – for they labored with you in the gospel.
- Be their yokefellow (one who is united in the bond of marriage, relationship, office, study, business, etc. Be their comrade, consort, colleague, partner. Simply put, be their friend.
- Talk with them. Seek to understand them. If you are truly concerned about the issue, research it and see if the thing you are concerned about is truly an enemy of God’s Word. If so, you might help your friend turn to truth by loving correction. Or you might (like me) find that you are wrong. Either way, God wins for you will be united (like minded).
Through it all, there are a few key concepts that we have to remember are the important things about being faithful to God. There is a foundation for our beliefs that come before anything else. If that foundation exists in the heart of the person you are at odds with, perhaps the issue at hand is irrelevant in your relationship. Perhaps you can simply set it aside and love your friend, your fellow laborer, your yokefellow.
My prayer for my own heart today is that God would search my own heart for anything that is at odds with others so that I may be like minded with my brothers and sisters.
In all things – To God Be the Glory.
“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Phil 1:9-11