all in the family

i’m not talking about archie and edith, but there are a lot of us acting like meat heads.

i know i don’t post often enough and i really don’t know why i’m not compelled to write more often. i do know that one of the reasons that i’m ok with not having a super popular and highly commented on blog is the “discussions” that seem to arise.

maybe i’m too squeamish, but when i see tremendous brouhahas erupt like the current soul surfer back-and-forth happening at the thinklings, i get a bad taste in my mouth for blog “conversations.” i’m not necessarily trying to argue for or against the merit of blogs and subsequent comment discussions (i do blog, obviously… occasionally) but the tone and fervor of some of the disagreements disheartens me.

assumed Christian brothers and sisters up at arms and going off half-cocked by not reading the entire thread or by honing in on one little phrase here or there (often out of context). it smacks of division and barriers and walls.

again, maybe i’m too sensitive and it’s all just good healthy discussion, but it doesn’t always feel like it. it feels like us versus them. i know i’m not the first person to think these thoughts, and there are much smarter and stronger people than i who have committed to writing and discussing via this medium. and they obviously have little to no problem with its nuances and consequences. but i’m still a little gun shy about it.

i’ve been burdened recently with the convenience of “clique-ation” that can be found in modern american churches. we have options to worship where we like and, even within those walls, with only those Christians we want to be around. let us not forget, believers, we are all one body and one family in Christ. when we build walls and avoid our fellow brothers and sisters due to any difference of opinion or preference, we make it easier to lose sight of the unity we are supposed to foster.

i see a lot of Christian blog conversations lining up with that multi-camp mentality. is there a way to disagree heartily and maintain unity? over some things, yes. i, personally, am not very good at it. but it doesn’t look like i’m the only one.

peter writes that we are to “fervently” (strenuously) love one another and we are to be “hospitable” (loving towards strangers) (1 Peter 4:8-9). new testament believers didn’t have the luxuries that we do to pick and choose which worship center had the most comfy chairs or which young marrieds shared their affinity for coldplay. their unity was in Christ and by the Holy Spirit. and peter acknowledges that it takes effort to cultivate the unity we’re supposed to portray. is it wrong to gravitate towards like-minded believers? no. but it is wrong to lose sight of all the other believers around us. and it is definitely wrong to set them in our minds as adversaries. remember that by our love for one another (Christians loving Christians), the world will know that we are Christ’s disciples (John 13:35).

i’m just hoping more believers will consider what the world knows them for, even if only based on our interactions with fellow Christians.

and if i might suggest, pick your battles. and continue discussions and disagreements with grace, patience and love. (reading more thoroughly doesn’t hurt, either!)

take courage and work, for He is with us

a couple of sundays ago, our pastor preached from a passage in haggai which contained this verse:

‘But now take courage, Zerubbabel,’ declares the LORD, ‘take courage also, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and all you people of the land take courage,’ declares the LORD, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ declares the LORD of hosts.’ Haggai 2:4

what struck me the most was “and work; for I am with you.” the passage in context is an exhortation to the discouraged builders trying to bring the temple back to its former days of glory. what they’re working on doesn’t compare to the past, but God promises a better future. and during their doubt and discouragement, God tells them to keep working and promises His presence.

this reminded me of the great commission in matthew 28:

“Go therefore and make disciples…and lo, I am with you always” Matthew 28:19-20

which also got me thinking about God speaking to moses in exodus 4:

“You are to speak to [Aaron] and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do.” Exodus 4:15

in these passages, God/Christ tasks his people with a great mission and the trump card He equips them with to leave them without excuse is His own presence. every excuse we can come up with is a weakness in ourselves or someone else or the perceived strength of our opposition. God eliminates these “obstacles” by reminding us that He is with us. and if we’re walking in obedience to Him, we’ll remember that there is no greater power than that.

remember that, brothers and sisters. take heart, be strong and continue the work He has called you to. because our God is “with us!” not simply “for us.”

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33