Friday, May 06, 2011

The Rally to restore Unity

This past week there has been a web event going on called The Rally to Restore Unity which is May 1-7.

Each day I have been reading several very thoughtful blogs, as well as some silly ones, and a few I didn’t quite agree with, but all about the topic of Christian Unity. If you follow the link in the title you can see them all too and read for yourself! While all this talk of Unity is certainly timely in my own life, this blog is not about my own life or circumstances at this time, so don’t anyone going reading between the lines for something that isn’t there!

People have been making up signs about Unity and their ideas about it. Some were hilarious, some very thought provoking. See the young lady in the top right – that is Carrien- one of my longest dearest friends.

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I have taken to heart, and had reinforced in my head, some of these great ideas about unity among believers. I have written below, using many quotes and words of others (too many to footnote each one effectively) mixed all up with my thoughts and heart- what I consider to be a highlight reel for you Smile Enjoy the read, and see if you aren’t challenged yourself. I know I was!

 

------------The point of unity is to keep the Body functioning—not to make all the parts the same or to try and force everyone to agree, but to ensure that we don’t allow the very differences that make us so beautiful and diverse and adaptive cripple us to the point of uselessness.

It seems that most people don’t really love themselves very well, either. we actually are “loving our neighbor as ourselves” and that often means “not too nicely”.  for many,  there’s a deep insecurity inside, some kind of void that leaves a lot of room for defensiveness and fear. the “i’ve-got-to-prove-this-or-else-i’ve-got-nothing-left” mentality that robs joy, life, and free relationship with other people.  many of us are indeed loving our neighbors as ourselves–out of fear, anger and hate instead of love, hope, and peace.

my hope for unity is that we’d all become people with a deep sense of love in our core, a strong sense of knowing who we really are as people–accepted and free. and that out of that quiet strength, we’d be able to roll with others’ differences, not need to defend what doesn’t really need defending, and retain our own identity.  that we’d be secure people who have nothing to prove. When we have nothing to prove, we are released to love others more freely, more fully.  no agenda.  just a desire for mutual respect. When we crave honesty and crave authenticity and receive only “fakeness” back- that cuts to core. And then we give up trying. And i know that isn’t right…but I am only human and I don’t have the reserves to keep fighting. But to love…now that is the key, even if not loved back.

God,  let us know the true love that you have for us.  help us to accept it as our own so that we may give it  freely to others.

One girl Megan wrote about steps to Unity that I really like. Her first was- Assigning Positive Intent. For me, assigning positive intent is just code for Hebrews 12:15

See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

So it looks like this (online or face-to-face): Hmmmmm.  That little comment seemed a bit jerk-y.  Why is she always so mean to me? But I choose to think she probably didn't mean for it to be jerk-y.  I bet she just feels as strongly about this as I do.  I choose not to take offense.  I choose to continue on with love and gentleness.

Easy, right?  Uh yeah…I’m still working on it too. My heart is too darn soft and easily hurt…

Her next point was called : Disengaging the Divisive.  The closing paragraphs of Paul's letter to Titus have some instructions that are as timely for our culture as they were the day he penned them. I was just reading this again this week with Paul and discussing the Tuaregs to some extent Smile There are people in The Body who are determined to be divisive. It's okay to say, "I love you, brother, but I'm just not going to engage with you on this matter." Not everyone is going to like you, and if you simply drive yourself into a pit of depression, frustration and anxiety- sometimes we need to walk away. For a time? Forever? Only God knows as we seek Him.

For me, I know in my spirit when a conversation is meant to sharpen, educate, and authentically explore a matter.  Nothing wrong in engaging those discussions. I love deep discussions with many different sides presented! But when a discussion has turned the corner into a verbal fight, there's nothing wrong with just walking away.

Her third point was on Getting Up and Doing the Work.  The limitless venues of discussion and debate and entertainment (yes Facebook I am pointing at you!) afforded to us by technology pose a very real threat to The Body.  Not only do these offer endless opportunity for hurtful divides, they also provide endless opportunity for dangerous distraction. Get out there and get the work done!

From the streets of our cities to the spot on the globe furthest from our homes, there are people who need to know the Good News.  What if we asked ourselves: "How many hours did I spend this week with a cup of coffee and good conversation with others?  Now, how many hours did I spend with the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the sick, and the imprisoned?  Not just throwing money at ministry, but with sleeves rolled-up, broken and poured out for others?"

Partnering with each other in Kingdom work is one of the best, best ways to live in unity with one another. So why is also one of the hardest for unity?

After all, they will know we are disciples by our _______________________

Theological stance?
Political loyalty?
Denominational affiliation?

LOVE.

 

One girl Jamie talked about a very visual picture of Unity. She said:

“ A body, made up of many different parts, somehow working together to share the love of a Savior with the world.  And I love that a big toe and a mouth, for example, weren’t designed to hang out together but, still, they manage to be part of the same body.  In fact, you probably do your best to keep them apart. 

Are your mouth and your toe unified? Absolutely. Are they BFFs? Probably not.”

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The key is to let them each serve their purpose while recognizing that they both have a place within the bigger design.

 

So that’s it. My thoughts from the last few days, intermingled with their words. I know how much unity and transparency is important to me. It is air to me. It is crucial. I am not one of those people who can just pretend it doesn’t exist and walk away, and yet Jesus still has so much more to teach me about it. I am so thankful he is a good and patient teacher!

 

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1 comment :

Carrien said...

haha, you called me a young lady. :)

That's not what this tired mama of 4 feels like, but thanks. :)

I like your thoughts.