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Friday, November 20, 2015

Like-minded people unite

Like-minded people have a tendency to gravitate toward one another, don't they?  It is as though there was some internal form of radar which brings them together and they just mesh.  This is all good when the "like-minded" thoughts and actions are pretty upright and honorable.  When they are at the opposite end of the spectrum, we don't like to see those people "get together" because the opposition they bring to others when together is pretty challenging to deal with.  What are the "like-minded" tendencies we are supposed to be focusing on in finding those we travel through this life with on our journey to eternity?  The characteristics we are to look for in others are the ability to show sympathy, love, compassion and humility for each other.  This is the beginning of "finding" the right type of companions for the journey, but when we add to this the willingness to move from paying back the evil or insult we receive in life with nothing more than grace, we truly have found the best companions for the journey.  

Finally, all of you, be like-minded and show sympathy, love, compassion, and humility to and for each other—not paying back evil with evil or insult with insult, but repaying the bad with a blessing. It was this you were called to do, so that you might inherit a blessing.  It is written in the psalms, "If you love life and want to live a good, long time, then be careful what you say.  Don’t tell lies or spread gossip or talk about improper things.  Walk away from the evil things in the world—just leave them behind, and do what is right, and always seek peace and pursue it.  For the Lord watches over the righteous, and His ears are attuned to their prayers.  But His face is set against His enemies; He will punish evildoers." (I Peter 3:8-12 VOICE)

To be like-minded doesn't mean we agree on everything, but we agree on enough to make our travels together moments when we will actually experience growth in our lives.  In some translations of this passage, "like-minded" is translated as being in unity or living in harmony with one another.  I like the term "like-minded" because it actually focuses on the root of all action and helps us recognize the importance of finding those in our lives who help us develop "sound thought or reasoning" in order to produce the right actions within our lives.  If our thought processes are at odds with each other, our actions will also be opposed to each other - we will be working against each other, rather than creating the synergy which brings us to a better place or behavior pattern.  It is more than agreeing to disagree - it is actually living in agreement with each other because the standards by which you each pattern your lives are the same (those which are revealed in the scripture).  Unity is probably one of the hardest things to attain - because agreement is tough stuff.  They key to agreement is not that we each give into the other, but that we all are focusing on the same standard by which we "take action" in our lives.

Toby Mac is quoted as saying, "When someone does something wrong, don't forget about all the things they did right."  We have a tendency in life to focus on the stuff which rubs us wrong, or is in disagreement with what we believe, don't we?  It is like we have laser sharp focus on those things and then keep them in our "sights" for a long, long time.  When we focus on the stuff we don't agree about, we sometimes lose sight of the tremendous amount of stuff we do agree on!  I may not have any issue with eating pork, but my sister does.  She is in one of her 'healthier' kicks right now, so she is refraining from eating any meat outlined in scripture as "unclean" when God gave Israel the Law of Moses.  She wants to make good choices for her body - I cannot lose sight of that "motive" in her actions.  I may not live by that standard, but it doesn't hurt me to support her in it as much as possible.  We can live in harmony - but disagree about which meat we will serve at each other's dinner table!

In making life choices, we often tend to find those who will support our choices - this is only natural.  We just need to make sure those who support our choices are doing so for the right reason - especially if our choices may not be entirely correct!  If people just "get together" on a choice because it is a similar choice, but that choice is far from the standard God would want for our lives, then it is just two people pursuing wrong choices and encouraging each other to continue to do so!  We don't need "allies" in sin, we need "allies" in righteousness! These might actually be harder to find, but well worth the discovery!  Look for those who guard their tongue - for the tongue can set many a life into turmoil with the speed of light and the destructiveness of a raging wildfire.  Seek those who are willing to forgive others for their poor judgment or not so "right" actions - for there is something contagious about letting go of grudges and leaving vengeance to God.  Find another who will walk away from things which aren't all that honorable, guarding carefully what they allow into their lives as influences - for what we "allow" often becomes the standard by which we form our future actions.

There are things we can never compromise on - scripture clearly declares what these are. There are other things we can agree about as the "right choice" for another because it meets the needs of another, but doesn't violate any principle taught in scripture.  We help each other to grow when we don't focus on the little things which don't really matter all that much. It doesn't matter that your body bears a tattoo or two (or more), nor does it matter that there is are earrings running the length of your ear.  As we look deeper, we might just find the heart of the one standing across from us is just like ours - in love with Jesus, open to his grace, and desiring to share that grace with others.  Just sayin!