Discipleship

Satan is Pleased

Disunity is nothing new. It is an old trick, arguably around since the garden scheme to put husband and wife against each other in blame and the resulting separation from God.

But this year’s pandemic-drenched election is confounding with the layers of disunity.

The progressive left is agitated that the party they have tried to transform has as its candidate who some view as a centrist. Republicans are left wondering what it means to be conservative anymore as some shill for the cult of personality while others lament the loss of small government and kindness. Pro-life people are disunified on what the term means, do we only vote for a candidate perceived to be against abortion or do we actually work to value life of all people.

Sadly, the church, a people prone to be discipled more by confirmation bias than the Bible, has allowed the same level of disunity over politics or even response to a global pandemic. All of this leaves the accuser of the Saints, Satan, pleased.

Now I have no insight for the political left, or right, but I do have some encouragement for those claiming faith in Christ. Unity is what we are meant for. If it wasn’t important Jesus could have saved his breath in John 17. A oneness in Christ, with each other is the design for the church.

We are all culpable so where do we go from here? I suggest we become more rooted in the Word, more aggressive in repentance, and more familiar with love.

We must know what Jesus taught in order to be his disciples and we hear it in Scripture. Of course every believer is committed to Scripture, just ask them. But as individuals I wonder if we are ripe for evaluation of our lives and how much we take in that is in opposition to God’s best for his people and his invitation to live as Kingdom citizens.

Can we endeavor to consume more of Christ’s word? And do so not to confirm a bias we have but asking the Spirit to open our eyes and show us how to get to unity with others anchored in the good news of Jesus?

As we read then we should be quick to act upon what we hear. We tend to read Scripture looking for stories of great blessing that we can claim for ourselves but neglect the calls against rampant idolatry and half-hearted worship. Maybe in this season, to get to unity it will take aggressive repentance for the ways we have sinned against each other and the Lord by calling lesser things more important.

A whole-life repentance (given it’s Reformation Day we should reclaim this!) will move us beyond our prayer closet and into each others’ homes asking for forgiveness and seeking restoration with one another. It will also move us into the streets to care for the least among us, those without voice, without privilege.

And it might recenter us in love. Jesus does bold work by calling his followers to not only love our neighbor (hard enough for us) but to also love our enemies and pray for those that persecute us. Some of us find it hard in this season to love the people we sit six-feet away from at church. But following Jesus is death-to-self. A sacrificial life of care for others, even those we are sure are against us. Let’s recommit to that, to love.

Because Jesus first loved us we have nothing to lose in extending love to others. Maybe the Spirit will even give you a tangible way to do that before the election is even over.

In the Word, quick to repent, and active in unlimited love, we will find our unity. In Jesus, who forgives us and gives us new mercy to try again. We are free to throw off what weighs us and separates us and realize the answer to Christ’s prayer that we would be one and he and the Father are one.

Are we up for it?

Discipleship

They Did Not Thirst

“This season is very revealing…” This has been my sentiment as we continue through 2020 full of her pandemic and racial tension. When shaking happens, things are uncovered and our deepest hopes, bias, and perspectives are revealed. This has been a significant reality in the church and while it does not make for the easiest relationships or partnerships, it is good.

I brought this reflection to my reading this morning and Isaiah 48’s recounting of the refining of Israel. It is essentially God retelling the ways he has used circumstance to chisel away at the hearts of his people. To reveal their disobedience and to show the way of trusting his will and way. “Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea;” Isaiah 48:18

There was hope for them still and it was in recounting the faithfulness of God.

Go out from Babylon, flee from Chaldea, declare this with a shout of joy, proclaim it, send it out to the end of the earth; say, “The LORD has redeemed his servant Jacob!

They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts; he made water flow for them from the rock; he split the rock and the water gushed out.” Isaiah 48:20-21

I was talking to a few pastors just yesterday and they mentioned the “battle weariness” of this season of ministry and I can relate. Simple things are not simple anymore and rapid transformation in the church is not only exhausting, it is like the fires have been set to be quite a bit hotter.

Yet we, like Israel, can recount the faithfulness of God in the midst of the refining. We can return to him in repentance and reliance on his grace and power. We can live “hydrated” by his Spirit as we, ministers and the rest of us, persevere through the unknown of tomorrow.

Some of us need to take some breaks; get off of social media and replace the time with Scripture. Some of us need to have more real conversations where gospel reminder is the end point. Some of us need to keep being bold where voices have been absent. And some of us just need to get away, to a place of solitude to be with the Father.

All along the way my prayer is that we would look back on this year and say we did not thirst as we journeyed through this desert, that the Lord’s provision was gushing out. Will you pray that with me?

Uncategorized

A Rock In The Sock

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” Hebrews‬ ‭12:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This morning as I made the way down the street for my morning run I was pestered by something in my shoe. It began as a little itch, something I just ran through trying to take my mind off of it. Then it became more annoying so I adjusted my shoe a bit hoping for relief. Then it was unbearable so I put my finger in my sock to find a small rock, a pebble, working like sandpaper on my heel as I ran the race that was set before me.

Immediately the comparison to sin that lingers and stays so close became abundantly clear and painful even. I suppose I could have continued on with the rock in my sock but it would have ruined the run. It would have dominated the experience and detracted from the purpose. I may have hobbled along, but there would have been no joy, no undistracted exertion.

This friends is us when we live with the little rocks of sin. Those things that have become routine. The behaviors, the thinking, the attitudes. They usually just start as an itch but become something that tries to burrow into the skin and wreak havoc.

These are the things we are to lay aside, give up on, remove from the “socks” of our lives. So that we may run. Live the abundant life we are meant for.

But the encouragement doesn’t stop in Hebrews with just running. It is running while “looking to Jesus” we are encouraged toward. The founder and perfecter of our faith that took on a cross to clear every “rock,” remove every weight of sin that clings so closely. And because he did that, for the joy of claiming you, you are now free to remove those pesky rocks from your socks.

Christian, there is no rock of sin that can condemn you in Christ. You are covered, and made to wear his righteousness. Now in him you are also empowered to lay aside sin. Notice it, own it, repent of it, and turn away from it. Discard the rocks.

This is for me and I think the Lord gave me a pebble to illustrate with frustrating clarity the distraction of those tightly clinging sins I have been trying to run through.

May we live to surrender those lesser things to the finished work of Christ. May we run looking to him.