If unity is what Jesus asked his Father to do among his followers and we cannot produce it in our own strength how are you learning to live in a way that let’s you sample that unity in your relationships with other people? What allows that unity to grow in the relationships you have, and what would hinders it? There are lots of options here, so add what he is making dear to you these days.
If I died when He died on the cross, then it’s Him alone that is to live His life through my body/vessel. It’s what Hudson Taylor called “the Exchanged Life” - His life for mine. Once I had the revelation of that and am learning to simply rest in Him (over 100 times in the bible “In Christ Jesus” is used when we are to “do” something), I need just sit back in Him to enjoy His amazing spontaneous life unfold. It’s the story of Song and how the Shulamite woman progessively learned that her lover was the giver and she was the receiver; she was His garden. “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” He came to serve us so that He can serve others through us. Our only gospel duty is to continually keep our eyes on Him. Even that is impossible, but the Holy Spirit honors our heart by bringing us back again and again and using all of it for good for His purposes…
I used to be a the kind of person that would have a deep theological statement about everything… When I learned about God’s love I turned away from forcing those theological statements on people…
Sometimes I catch myself thinking that I need to force the idea of a loving God on other people, but I then realize that this kind of behavior is unloving, and it shows that I’m acting as a lord over others. I can present it to people who are willing to listen, but should refrain from attempting to force any ideology on other people. I have also noticed that trying to force ideas on people only causes arguments and harsh attitudes that separate and divide people anyway.
So I am concentrating on asking God to show other people His love through me, and by asking God to reveal to me, whatever He has for me… whether it be what He can teach me, or who He wants me to show kindness to, and how to show that kindness to them.
Bailey, NC (USA)
In my natural family, I recognise three very distinct layers so to speak, each layer contributing to something different e.g. one contributes to our sense of oneness as a family, the next contributes to our sense of unity or being unified in a common purpose as a family and the next contributes to our sense of our practical freedom and love in the way we interact with each other in the family. I’ve come to look at it like a three layered cake or a three story house where each layer is not only important, but is necessary to provide a foundation for the next layer to exist and function and I have come to see that when these three layers are all working together we tend to experience a real strong bond of trust love and friendship in the family.
Going back to the first layer (our oneness as a family) I have noticed that this is strongest when every member of the family has a deep peace and assurance that they are loved and accepted and do belong in the family and most importantly feel safe and secure. And this can be true even where a member of the family is not a natural member e.g. not born to the same parents.
The second layer (our sense of unity and feeling unified in purpose) seems to work best when each individual in the family have their own unique sense of purpose and passion and an ability to provide or contribute to each other’s sense of peace and assurance i.e. contribute to and build up each other’s confidence that they are loved and accepted and do belong and do feel safe and secure as a member of the family. And that normally happens in the way we look out for one another’s needs and quite often their wants also i.e. things not ‘necessary’ which help communicate love and acceptance.
The third layer (our interacting in freedom and love) really stands on the first two layers and is terribly important in the way it provides everyone with that same sense of authority and empowerment (and equal opportunity) to contribute to and build up one another’s sense of peace and assurance that they are accepted and loved (contributing to the first layer in other’s lives) – and also look for ways to support other members of the family both in gaining their own sense of purpose in the family that is unique to them and support them in developing the abilities unique to their particular passion (contributing to the second layer in other’s lives).
He is bringing about unity in my life by showing me that the thought that I’m ‘in’ and they are ‘not in’ is so wrong. Rather–we were all included in what he did on the cross. He sustains all things…even those who don’t live in the knowledge of what He has done for them. Nothing can separate any of us from that love. Not even my behavior (good or bad) is going to change that love for me nor anyone else. So my good works don’t make me any more superior…and “their” bad deeds don’t make them any less loved etc. He is FOR all. The more I live in the realization of how enormous that love for me (and others) is, the more I am moved with compassion for other people myself. But it is ALL His love. He is the Source. So when I am loving others it is actually Him loving through me.
Also, I am realizing that all of these different denominations etc., don’t unify. In fact they do the opposite–they divide and separate. He is the one that unifies His body. It is an amazing thing. I no longer find myself in debates about which one is right and which one is not right. We all want to be ‘right’ but only Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And the knowledge of that Truth is the only thing that will set you free.
I have lived in a black-and-white world for a long time. My relationship with God was often fear-driven rather than love-driven. In fact, it was almost impossible for me to say, “I love you” to Father since I felt unworthy because of my shortcomings. As I have been learning to live loved, I have been blessed to be in communion with a small group of folks who are also seeking to know God better. We have been able to express where we are in our faith journey. We have laid aside the “you-are-wrongs” and instead, we have prayed for each other and been able to ask questions to clarify our own thinking. Not a one of us believes exactly the same way about Father and this has expanded our beliefs and our love for each other and for God. Do I sometimes worry that ‘error’ may be tolerated? Yep. But then I can entrust each of our friends to Jesus to correct errors by His Holy Spirit.
It is hard for me to disagree with a group of people who may all hold one perspective on a social issue. I have been known to just agree passively because it is easier. But I am learning that it is not only okay, but probably imperative to express my doubts and my reasons so that differing perspectives can be heard and explored.
For a long while, I did not accept my husband’s beliefs because they were different than mine. He felt judged and did not want to share his journey with me. As we have opened up about our journeys, we have been able to accept each other and pray for each other. We have focused on our certainties instead of our differences. This has grown our relationship significantly and our joy in being together and communicating openly.
I pray for continued relationships of openness and honesty and seeking. I pray to encourage those on the journey, esp. those whose doctrine may be different than mine. And I pray for the openness to love God and to love others and to continuously be open to His truth.
Wow!.. Well said Bobbe…
Thanks for keeping it real and being honest about the ups and downs and the struggles of living loved and trusting the Holy Spirit to keep things straight. This is very encouraging to me…
Bailey NC (USA)