Sunday, July 1, 2018

I didn't see that before!

The same road - the same direction - but do we see things differently along that road as we travel in the same direction? You betcha! This lesson was illustrated the other day as we were commuting home. Every other week, my BFF and I take turns driving. Some days mom is in the carpool with us as she heads off to her day club for a little socialization. When that happens, one of us sits in the back seat, allowing us to have both a higher view of the surroundings and a little less distracted view. I have observed just how many text while driving, reading emails and social media feeds, not just at the stoplight, but as they drive! My BFF observed the local nursery got a face-lift of sorts, complete with new parking lot and entrance. I mentioned to her that had been completed months ago and she looked surprised. Why? Although we had traveled the road multiple times in that same direction, that one observation had escaped her view. It is not uncommon that we travel at the same pace, in the same direction, all the while observing or taking in differing aspects of that journey - each from our own vantage point and mindset. There is nothing wrong with that - but if we don't ever share what it is we observe, others who are traveling along with us may never enjoy those discoveries for themselves!

You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness. But that doesn't mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift. (Ephesians 4:4-7 MSG)

Absolutely none of us should be idle in our walk - we should not be found sitting around on our hands doing nothing for Christ, never growing, but becoming stagnant and pretty 'stale' in our daily walk with him. O
ur walk should not be one of "fits and starts", with little movements here and there, but a consistent and vital walk with Christ. In the passage above, we see that we have traveling companions in our journey - all going the same direction, traveling the same road. Having that in mind, let's explore a little about some of the benefits and dangers of "walking together".

To begin with, we are traveling the same road - there is no "unique" path to God, nor is there any really "unique" path into sin - all sin is a deviation from what God has declared to be good for us. If someone ever tells you that "their" revelation of God is better than someone else's and that it is the only path you can follow, beware! If anyone tries to convince you their 'degree' of sin is much different from yours and that you can never understand where they are or have been, it just isn't true. We are moving in the same direction - not pulling against each other, derisive in our attitude, or trying to 'outdo' the other. There is more than a unity of action, but a unity of spirit that motivates that movement. This is what is referred to as both the outward and inward commitment to staying together - united in our purpose, united in our focus, united in our progress.

The church is notorious for having little groups of people here and there, some moving one direction, others moving another. We limit our effectiveness as a congregation of believers if we allow this lack of unity to exist too long. God doesn't receive glory when we are all out of step with each other - doing our own thing oblivious to the call to reach others that God has placed in our lives. The most telling part of this passage is the announcement that we don't need to be "cookie cutter" Christians - all looking alike, speaking alike, etc. We have a uniqueness of character that makes us perfect for the position we have in the community in which we live and serve. It is these unique qualities that God uses to reach out to others who "connect" with those spiritual attributes, natural talents, and life experiences that are similar to their own. It is what helps us to "bond" in the community into which we are placed - becoming a cohesive group, full of power and purpose in Christ.

For many of us, we consider our "uniqueness" as something that is "odd" or perhaps not really "worthy" of much attention. We each have a different "vantage point" that we viewed life from prior to coming to Christ - that vantage point presents us with tremendous opportunities now that we are on the pathway with other disciples learning how to live this life in Christ. So, as we journey together, we must learn to appreciate the various differences of those on this journey with us. We must not try to conform to some "mold" that another may try to impose upon us - we are free to be exactly who God has made us to be in his tremendous grace and love. I know that there is an old adage, "Variety is the spice of life." In the community into which we are placed, variety is the very thing that accomplishes the ministry God intends through the each of us - men and women of every background, reaching other men and women of similar backgrounds. So, let your "uniqueness" shine today! Just shinin!