This is the sixth in the series, “Who Will Name Reality?” This week Tim explores opening our eyes to live at a deeper level.
Preference or Purpose?
We live in a changing world. Uniformity and consensus are being replaced by individuality and diversity as the connective tissue in our communities and personal relationships. We have begun to place more importance on preferences and less importance on the mission and purpose of our congregations.
We live in a time when we have divided ourselves into positions around a number of issues. Each issue is good within itself, but the issue is not the purpose. We have begun to see those persons who disagree with us as enemies. Although it seems extreme, in many cases we have moved to destroy those who stand in the way of what we believe and desire.
Opening Blind Eyes
John Claypool, in his book Opening Blind Eyes, tells the following story:
One night during the Middle Ages, two warriors in full armor were riding along, each thinking there was no one else for miles around. They happened upon each other at a particularly dark spot. Both were startled and each misinterpreted the movements of the other as gestures of hostility. So they began to fight, each believing he was under attack and must defend himself. The conflict grew more intense until one knight finally succeeded in unhorsing the other. Then, with one mighty effort, he drove his lance through the fallen knight’s heart. The victor dismounted and limped over to the adversary he had just killed. He pulled back the facemask, and there to his horror, in the pale moonlight, he recognized his own brother. He had mistaken a kinsman for an enemy and had destroyed him.¹
How do we reverse the processes in place that lead us to such anxiety and action? Given our differences and discomforts, how do we refocus our suspicions and anxieties? Maybe we could focus more on our mission and purpose and less upon our preferences and issues?
What is Your Desire?
I must say that I am making the assumption, that as followers of Jesus Christ, we desire to be Christ-like in our relationships and in our interactions with one another. If my assumption is true, is it too much is imagine that we, as followers of Jesus….
See others as relatives as opposed to enemies?
Even Jesus taught us to love our enemies. (Mathew 5:43-44) Could we stop moving to destroy the people with whom we disagree and begin to join hands and hearts in the life and love of Jesus?
Let the love of God, which surrounds and embraces all of us, lead us to the place where we see one another as gifts from God rather than enemies?
Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, when talking about different gifts in the faith community, teaches that love is what holds the diversity of gifts together. Surely we remember that “love is patient and kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hope, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:8)
Begin to live in trust as opposed to fear?
It is when we misinterpret the movements of those with whom we disagree as gestures of hostility that we dig in our heels, hold our ground, and begin to fight.
The early Christians lived by the teaching that “there is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear…” 1 John 4:18.
A Deeper Level
What could happen if we began to focus upon our purpose, our mission, why we exist as followers of the living God in and through Jesus Christ? We would live at the deepest level of which we are capable where we perceive one another as relatives and our behavior would begin to transform the world.
We live in a changing world. Will you join me in making the world God intended it be?