I walked the loop of our neighborhood last week, before going to church for the evening. Stress had been running high in my life, to the point that I was breaking out in hives, and I needed to take a mile to remember to breathe. But I passed by a house on the north end that was flying full democratic posters across the entire front lawn. Then, as I was coming up on the hill on the west, I passed a house flying full republican posters across their lawn. There it was in my own neighborhood: dissension.
It made me scratch at those hives.
Disagreement among my own neighbors caused a pain in my soul, but dissension with my brothers and sisters in Christ is making me especially tired, tired, tired. There’s a lot of tension about Covid-19 policies, who to vote for, and how to act in regard to race relations. Lots to disagree about these days.
A proverb comes to mind, “Birds in their little nests, agree.” If only all of the little birds in the body of Christ could agree on all the things.
But we don’t always agree on current issues, and the Lord has brought a verse to my mind that I’ve been leaning on. It’s been a cool and soothing truth, much like the relieving Benadryl cream I’ve been applying to my hot and blistery skin. I’ll share it with you, and maybe you can apply it as well:
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)
This summer I spent hours and hours finding and then reading and listening to black followers of Jesus, in trying to understand what was happening in our country. I learned a lot, and I haven’t stopped learning from them. I don’t agree with all of these brothers and sisters regarding truths about race and justice in our country, and recently the above verses came to mind. “We were all given the one Spirit.” After asking the Lord all summer what he wanted me to do to contribute to good race relations in our country, I felt he was giving me an opportunity to pray for influential black Christians.
What I’ve been praying is, “Lord, you’ve given me your Spirit and you’ve given this black sister the same Spirit. Fill both of us with your wisdom. Help her to glorify your name.”
In praying that, something uncomfortable happened. I realized that if I had the same Spirit as someone else and I was in disagreement with that person on something, it was possible that I WAS THE ONE WHO WAS WRONG or shortsighted. It was tempting to pray, with haughty eyes, “Looooord, help that sister see the same truth you’ve shown me.” Oooh, I mean, that’s really prideful. Wow. Am I willing to see and admit if my perspective is wrong or incomplete?
I’ve taken the same prayer into my own local church family, as we have disagreements on the way things are being done regarding Covid stuff. When someone I disagree with comes to mind, I’ve been halting any negative thoughts and praying, “Lord, that sister or brother whom I love has been drinking from the same Spirit as I have.”
You know what happens? My eyes turn from the person to the Spirit.
My eyes go from looking all the way down my prideful little nose, judging the other believer, to looking up to the Spirit and letting him be the dad.
Your dad said that to you at some point in your life, didn’t he? When you and a sibling were fighting and you were doing a lot of angry finger pointing? “You be the kid and let me be the dad.”
We could war against one another or we could choose to be the kids and let the Spirit be the one who convicts and guides and disciplines when necessary. It helps me relax when I do this, because I realize I don’t have to try to control all of the Christians in the world and make them do what I think is right. The Spirit of Jesus will do that, which then leaves me only to pray lovingly for the other soul and humbly regarding my own.
Little birds, we may not agree in our nest, but we are in the same nest, with one Spirit taking care of us and working in us. Isn’t this a calming thought? Let’s meditate on this over the next weeks and let it relieve inflammation.