There’s a thing that God does to drive some things home to me. It’s called confirmation. In my devotions and Bible study, verses about unity and loving one another seem to keep showing up.
And then on social media, I see more frequent posts from other people about ways to change our thinking about people we have a problem liking, people who seem to represent everything we have a problem with, or people who might just plain give us the heebie-jeebies.
I know, I know. It might be artificial intelligence, my computer spying on me, noticing I searched a particular Bible verse. It could even be the Russians, for all I know. (A little humor there, folks. Spies will be spies, but the Holy Spirit gives discernment, so no worries!)
I tend to figure that if the Russians or my computer might be throwing reading material my way, then certainly God can allow me to recognize this as a confirmation of impressing upon me the need for more Christian unity and forbearance for one another.
And I certainly know it, when it not only comes from my study of the Bible, devotions and browsing social media, but also out of the blue comes out of someone’s mouth.
He was trying to bring a little levity to a very important point, and it worked. A preacher took a light-hearted approach to addressing the point of unity in the body of Christ. The church, the people who follow Jesus. He told us to think on this, in so many words: We’d better find a way to love all our brothers and sisters, because we’re going to spend an eternity with them.
A few weeks later in Bible study, the concept of bringing that out of the church and into our daily lives was hammered home. Loving and following Jesus — being a part of the kingdom — in no way ends when we leave our church building and go to work.
Can we show ourselves to others in a light that is pleasing to God every day? I don’t know about you, but I sometimes struggle with it. Sometimes I allow myself to be tired or irritated or distracted or — oh my — even totally derailed by something someone says or does. When that happens, I have to tell you, it wastes valuable heart space and it frankly puts a great big wet blanket on the joy of the Holy Spirit.
But guess what? God has filled His Word with guidance on how to deal with it.
If you want your life to have God’s blessing on it, see people — everyone — as potential forever brothers and sisters in Christ. Forgive and mean it. And ask forgiveness and mean it. Dial back the urge to make the problem bigger and ask God to work it out. Don’t get ahead of Him. It could be your very reaction or action that allows God to work in them. And you!
Does that mean we will always agree? Probably not. But remembering that God has the first — and the current — and the last — Word on our lives and theirs should put most things in perspective.
Proverbs 19:11 — A man’s insight gives him patience, and his virtue is to overlook an offense.
Proverbs 25:21 — If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
Luke 6:27 — But to those of you who will listen, I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you...
Luke 6:28 — ... bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
Luke 23:34 — Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up His garments by casting lots.
John 13:34 — A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another.
Acts 7:60 — Falling on his knees, he cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Romans 12:14 — Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse.
1 Thessalonians 5:15 — Make sure that no one repays evil for evil. Always pursue what is good for one another and for all people.
A reminder about something I wrote about last month: One of the ways we can put Christian unity into action is to have fellowship with other people in our community. Last month was the second monthly worship gathering of #Unite Princeton at First General Baptist Church, an opportunity for Jesus followers across the community to worship as one body. There were members of at least seven local churches at that event, and it was a blessing for me to be there.
The next #Unite Princeton worship event is at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 28, at Oasis Assembly of God. You’re all invited. The idea is to move the event around each month among local houses of worship and other venues in the community. If you love Jesus, please come and meet some members of your extended Christian family. If you don’t know Jesus yet, it’s a great opportunity to see what it’s all about!