Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Being An Island Sucks

You are not meant to be alone. You are not meant to face life here on your own strength. You are not an island. You need people. More accurately, you need your brothers and sisters in Christ. That is how it was designed. It is a spiritual fact and when we fight against it, decide against it we are deciding against Yahweh. Don't do it.

A simple verse to put the truth in focus is:

"For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." (Matthew 18:20)

I make it a point not to argue against the words of Jesus. Even if I may not understand it at this moment I have found it is best policy simply to trust that Jesus is right.

There are a number of challenges with fellow Christians because each person is an individual and no one is perfect. We have certain expectations of each other and we all fail those expectations. We make mistakes, we hurt each other, we don't always follow Yahweh's instructions, we are sometimes selfish, we often try to manipulate things to our advantage. This causes hurt and when we are hurt the first thing we want to do is withdraw. This is natural to us. But we no longer allow our old nature to reign but instead support our new nature.

The first and most important aspect of this new nature is forgiveness. The only way the Body of Christ works is when forgiveness is always our first reaction. The only way we can be brothers and sisters is when we are liberal in our forgiveness. The only way we can make sense of anything is when we learn to forgive in the same manner we have been forgiven.

I am not talking about the forgiveness that says "I forgive but I will not trust you again". The forgiveness we have received from Father says "I forgive you and will continue to forgive you for eternity. I am making myself vulnerable to you and will absorb the pain in order to continue to forgive". Now if you want to talk about a definition of real love, this is it. It is that decision to not withdraw from the people who hurt us but to forgive them and to sacrifice ourselves for them, even if they hurt us again. This is love as defined by Jesus who told us to love each other as he has loved us.

If we choose to withdraw, to be alone, to isolate ourselves, it is because we have failed to understand what it is all about. It means we haven't surrendered our heart to Jesus but have simply paid lip service. This is not a physical or emotional response but a spiritual reality. Jesus transforms the surrendered heart, strengthens it to love as he has loved, unconditionally, with unending forgiveness, willing to be hurt countless times in vulnerability, always being healed by love. We are not an island and when Paul described the Church in 1 Corinthians 12 he ended it by explaining how this impossible thing was possible:

I want you to desire the best gifts. So I will show you a much better way. (1 Corinthians 12:31)

And then he gave us 1 Corinthians 13. Love is how it all works. Love makes the impossible work. Love provokes you to forgive those who hurt you and to draw close to them. These are the decisions we have to make. We have to decide not to withdraw, to stay close, and to make friends out of our brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter the cost.