Greetings to the family of God,
My brother, sister and I are so different…not just in looks, but in personality. If you stuck us in a room and asked someone to pick those who were related, almost immediately, you would match up Barby and Sam. Sam looks just like my Father, Barby has the same features as my Mother. I often tell people, “I look like the Orkin Man.” Mom hates it when I do that, but she use to always comment about how good looking he was, and he had a British accent…LOL. I’m really glad she isn’t technically savvy, and will never read these words. And even though we Burdette children look so different, and have distinctly different personalities…the same blood flows through our veins…there is a familial bond that goes beyond looks and creates a love that will not be broken. As my Dad use to say, “You can chose your friends, but you’re stuck with your family.” Because you’re family you don’t quit on each other. You might speak truth, but you forgive…you continue to hope. Yes my family has some of the same serious issues that yours does…but we still don’t give up…we hope for our children, our relatives, and pray God will continually invade our lives…and theirs!
I don’t believe it’s an accident that scripture often refers to the Church (big C, not little c) as “The family of God.” “Consequently you are no longer strangers or aliens, but you are members of God’s family>” (Eph. 2:19) Many of Paul’s writings, as well as John and James address believers as “Brothers and Sisters and Children.” I remember with great fondness when someone was baptized into Christ when I was growing up at Southland Christian Church everyone would sing, “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God, born of His Spirit washed in His blood. Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod…I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God!”
So here’s my question…why do many within the family of God spend much of their efforts and energies in family squabbles? Both inside local churches and between believers of other denominations. I’m not so naive that I don’t realize there are some essentials when it comes to our salvation…(the problems usually occur when we drift from scripture and start inserting our opinions). Baptism, Grace, The Sinner’s Prayer, Once saved always saved, predestination, eschatology (end time arguments)…and a myriad of other “fighting words.” But when Jesus says in Mark 3:25 “That a house divided against itself cannot stand.” He’s emphasizing the unity essential for Kingdom victory. In the Lord’s Prayer…not the model prayer of Matthew 6, but Jesus’ prayer right before He goes to the cross in John 17 He’s aching for this unity…storming the gates of heaven in prayer for it to be granted…”Father, may they be One, even as you and I are One!!!!”
If that is the heart of our Savior and Lord…”Why do so many within the army of God spend all their time polishing their armor, or using it to fight with other believers?”
Just some thought from my desk as I think about Jesus prayer for unity and Oneness:
1) Start with Jesus…if He is diminished in any way…made smaller than God in the flesh, who was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, fulfilled God’s plan by dying for our sins, was buried, rose again, ascended to the Father and promised to return again…this isn’t a family discussion…it’s a discussion between outsiders and blood connected brothers and sisters.
2) Be aware of individuals who will parse the Word of God. Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of God stands forever. Either we believe that the Almighty Creator of the Universe can provide, plan and protect His Word for us…or He can’t.
3) Start with an attitude of grace and humility. Any belief system that puts another person at a place of more value than another person is flawed from the start. The Older brother in Luke 15 needed the forgiveness and grace of the father, just as deeply as the prodigal brother in the pig sty…yet pride and arrogance made it’s acceptance almost impossible. James says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) Why would we expect unbelievers to understand deep spiritual concepts of faith…we didn’t. Starting at a place where you love your brother or sister in the family of God will help you not use your sword as a weapon to destroy..
4) When something is clearly a preference…”DON’T MAKE IT A BLOOD LETTING BATTLEGROUND OF DESTRUCTION.” Christianity at it’s very core is “Unselfish.” Baby’s fight over their toys…mature believers don’t.
5) Pray, and listen to the Holy Spirit’s voice. Most of our family squabbles and fights occur when we are trying to fix something on our own, and then we get mad and stop hearing the voice of God. (James 4:1-3)
6) Remember Love is the most distinguishing characteristic of Jesus’ family
“In his book, “Great Church Fights,” Leslie B. Flynn tells of two unmarried sisters, who lived together, but because of an unresolved disagreement, over an insignificant issue, they stopped speaking to each other–one of the inescapable results of refusing to forgive.
Since they were either unable or unwilling to move out of their small house, they continued to use the same rooms, eat at the same table, use the same appliances, and sleep in the same room–all separately, without one word. A chalk line divided the sleeping area into two halves, separating doorways as well as the fireplace. Each would come and go, cook and eat, sew and read without ever stepping over into her sister’s territory.
Through the black of night, each could hear the deep breathing of the other, but because both were unwilling to take the first step toward forgiving and forgetting, they coexisted for years in grinding silence.”
There is an enemy…but it is not us. Maybe if the world would be invaded by Jesus loving, truth speaking, Grace offering brothers and sisters in Christ it would be converted in it’s belief system. But who would want to be part of a family that refuses to forgive and forget…or any army divided?
God bless you all,