I'm a little hesitant to throw words out into cyberspace today. It seems like words are coming fast and furiously from every direction.
This week has felt very sad and heavy, and I'm heartbroken. It is easy and expected to be heartbroken over the injustices and causes that you and I were already on board with. But this isn't what I'm thinking of. I'm heartbroken because I think somewhere along the line we got confused and started seeing one another, as our enemies.
We have transformed the narrative so that we and those that share our feelings are the protagonists and everyone else is the antagonist. I see it all over. It is the March for Life vs. the Women's March. It is Obama vs. Trump. It is Mexicans vs. Americans. It's "my generation" vs "your generation". Smart vs Uneducated. Legal vs Illegal. Citizens vs. Refugees. Muslims vs Christians. The list goes on and on. For me the worst has been "small minded conservative Christians who have forgotten what the Bible says and don't really love God" vs. "heathen liberal Christians who have been tricked by the media and forgotten what the Bible says and don't really love God". Life is so much easier when there is a good guy and a bad guy, but this isn't where the fight should be.
The truth is, we are not the protagonist. God is. We aren't the antagonist either, Satan is. We have been stirred up to see the evil in one another and to be distracted from the real battle that is going on. We aren't in the real fight, we are just fighting with ourselves.
We aren't meant to be fighting against one another. Of course there is evil in us. That's why we needed Jesus. We are made to need one another and to bring one another to Him.
I need you when you are different than me, not just when your gifts are different than mine, but when you see brokenness and injustice that I don't. You need me to do the same. None of us is a perfect reflection of who God is and what His heart breaks for. It would be too much for any of us. I can't see all the brokenness, let alone physically bear all the broken heartedness that God has for our world. It is too much. It takes us all. We forget we are on the same team, and we are not each other's enemy.
We might see and feel that we live in a reality of an economy of scarcity, we only have so much time, money, effort, ability to be broken for others, space in our country, jobs available and the list goes on. So we choose, and in order to protect ourselves we make our issue more important than others. We just can't take it all on. What we forget is that God's reality is an economy of abundance. Where we don't have enough food, he multiplies the fish and bread so that not only is everyone full we even have left-overs. Where we only know our own language, he allows others to hear in their own language so that his message can go forth. Where we run out of wine, he takes the water used to cleanse us and creates wine that is better than we can afford so that we can really celebrate. We are asked in faith to live in both of these worlds, seeing and feeling the economy of scarcity in our own frailty and yet choosing to believe that there is a greater truth in God's abundance. I think that part of how God helps us live in both is by giving us one another so collectively we can better reflect his abundance without being the one who does it all. We are a team, where one raises the concern and leads the charge in one battle and another on a different battle but we are all in the same army. We are fighting a common enemy, not one another. Your victory is my victory, not my defeat. Even more than this, we as believers are not a part of the battle but we are invited into God's family.
So how do we move forward? There are two parts to this answer. The first is that we start to reconcile within the Christian family. We stop hurling vitriol at each other, collect ourselves and humbly come back to the table. We listen and seek to really hear one another. We pray for one another and even more importantly we pray together. Most of all, we trust that the Holy Spirit is alive and well within each of us. He is able to bring peace, conviction, wisdom, love for one another and to lead us forward. We are not the ones tasked to do any of these things on our own. We do not bring conviction, He does. We should ask him first to convict us and then others.
Second, we start fighting the real battle. If it isn't against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces of darkness, we need to stop shooting the human shields and instead really fight the enemy.
We need to turn back to God, apologize for the evil within us and ask Him to bring us closer to His will. Start with telling him you are sorry that you made yourself the protagonist, that it really should be Him. Apologize for those that you have made your own personal antagonist. If you don't know what you need to apologize for, where you have stopped following God, humbly ask Him to show you. He will.
We need to be students of God. We need to no only assume we know what the Bible says but to be reading it. Don't just learn what others say about the Bible, read it yourself. Ask God to teach you. Ask him to help you love his word. Do it with others. It is continually teaching me new things.
We start acting like we are on the same team. This is hard, and will cause friction at times but it gets easier as we do it more.
We listen and reflect back what we hear, asking questions to understand more instead of trying to trip one another up.
We build relationships with one another, sharing meals together instead of sharing memes on social media that belittle one another.
We praise God together, seeking to please Him by what and how we praise Him more than we please ourselves.
We assume the best from other Christians. That they are doing their best to love God, that they are acting upon the ways that the Holy Spirit is convicting them, that their faults are no bigger than our own and they deserve grace.
We start trying to live in a reality of "both and" no longer pitting one fight against another but instead looking for ways that we can live in the tension of things that seem to us to contradict one another not because we are wishy-washy but because God's capacity is beyond ours and we want to experience his abundance.
We work to take action humbly serving those that God has broken our heart for at our own personal expense. We stop battling against those who are broken hearted for others. We roll up our sleeves and get to work. We give of our time, our abilities, and our finances.
Finally we speak the truth in love. We share where our hearts are breaking and where we think God's heart is breaking too. We do this without antagonizing one another, but instead from a place of relationship and shared respect we share of ourselves and we receive the brokenness of others as something that breaks us too.