By Sandy Jones
I must admit it’s nice to be back to a more “normal” rhythm in life. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed in-person meetings, groups and even conferences again.
As I was praying and seeking God’s will for this column, I realized during our pastor’s latest sermon that He’d been preparing me for several weeks on the topic of ‘unity.’ It seems everywhere I’ve gone, just about every meeting I have attended, the conversation has turned to unity.
When I mentioned to our son, Drew, that I’d been praying about this issue’s topic, without hesitation he blurted out “John 17:23.”
I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. – John 17:23 NLT
I’ve never seen a more divided time in my life as we are today. Naturally everyone has an opinion, and that is as it should be, but we seem to have forgotten that we can disagree – civilly – and still respect one another as children of the Most High God.
I recently attended the Theology in the Raw “Exiles in Babylon” conference partially described on their website, www.theologyintheraw.com: “To be a Christian is to be an exile. The Bible has a name for the country we’ve been exiled to: Babylon. As exiles living in Babylon, we need to think biblically, Christianly, indeed exilically – not partisanly – through cultural and political issues.”
I will readily admit that the sessions I was able to attend made me think, deeply about many issues – including a challenging segment by Francis Chan on whether or not we take communion seriously enough. I always thought I was pretty tough on examining myself before taking the elements, but I will be forever changed by the thoughts he expressed that day.
This was a pro-Bible conference, although they didn’t shy away from some of the toughest topics of the day such as racism in the church, LGBTQ, and hell to name a few.
The speakers were all very careful to try to not let politics enter into their talks, but I felt that Preston Sprinkle made a poignant statement in his opening remarks. He said, “If the rhetoric of a certain Babylonian party causes you to love your neighbor less, then you might be giving more of your allegiance to Babylon’s messiah than you realize.” A concept I will most definitely keep in mind personally as we are heading into our primary elections this May.
In being transparent, and for those who don’t know me personally – I am completely human; I am not perfect; I have some strong opinions; and most importantly I am a work in progress, striving daily to become more like the person God created me to be.
Preston’s statement challenged me though to stop, examine and remind myself that in Genesis 1:7 we’re told: So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Realizing that if He, God, created all human beings in his own image, I’m no more or less important or special than anyone else. Admittedly we all have different gifts, and areas we excel in – but as His children I believe we are called to show love to one another in our words, deeds and actions. I believe that is what He meant by his two greatest commandments:
‘And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” – Mark 12:30-31 NLT
As I previously mentioned, I am striving daily to become the person God created me to be, yearning for a time when all of God’s children are more united, while looking forward to an eternity together of worshipping our Heavenly Father.
Until next time…
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