Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Who or What Can Separate Us?

“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” —Romans 8:33-35

I woke up this morning with this question on my mind. We met for lunch with a friend the other day. The conversation drifted into politics. It was only briefly, but a pinch of politics, to me, is like a pound of salt. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is important for the Christian voice to be heard – in our political system as well. But, politics is divisive – it divides family – friends – communities. It reminded me of the question – who or what can divide us – separate us.  If you agree that the Spirit of God unites us – with our Creator and with one another – and political differences can cause us to be divided – then what is it that dominates our being – our relationships? The spiritual or the natural. 

The acts of the flesh are obvious: ……. hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions…” –  Galatians 5:19-20

Those attitudes – no matter how hard you try to justify them – have nothing to do with the Spirit of God and should not – ever – be expressed in the lives of Christians – but they are aren’t they? Every day. For some reason, people – Christians believe that certain aspects of their lives are not governed by their new nature. That thinking is born out of our sinful nature and our struggle with living by the Spirit and not the flesh.  Our friend told us that they were at odds with a relative because of different political views. There is nothing – not one aspect – of our lives that is not under the authority of our Lord – not one thing that is exempt from being submitted to the Spirit of God. Not one. But …. Most Christians live like they don’t believe it.  They live like there are certain aspects of their lives that are exempt. That they are free to act out in their flesh, their old nature and still be a witness for Jesus. Some might call that hypocrisy – but never the ones guilty of it. They would call it – justified.  Reading about it, you might agree with me, but it is in the practice of the truth that so many stumble.  You are in the middle of it before you know it. You can be convinced that you are right in your attitude toward someone and be absolutely wrong.

About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’ ‘Surely not, Lord!’ Peter replied. ‘I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.’ The voice spoke to him a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’” – Acts 10:9-15

Peter was convinced he was right in his thinking that the Messiah came for the Jews and not others. That he was to have nothing to do with the Gentiles. But God revealed the truth to him on the roof top and his subsequent encounter with Cornelius. Are there people that you have decided are “unclean”? Perhaps because of their ethnicity. Perhaps you are Black or Hispanic and have decided that white people are not worthy of your relationship simply because they are white or some other color or background.  Or maybe it is politics or maybe you just don’t like people from the Northeast or West coast or the South. You think you have it figured out – you feel justified in harboring those feelings – and you may not even know the person beyond seeing them or shaking their hand. Peter was convinced until God showed him otherwise.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:35

In the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10), the question was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” in other words, who am I supposed (or do I have to) to love. Then Jesus shared the parable about someone the Jews hated showing love to someone who hated him. The love of God transcends every aspect of this natural life. Our challenge is to allow the Spirit of God to rule in us and shape us – transform us by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2)  Are you willing to let God show you a better way to love? It is contrary to your culture’s thinking and doing.  It is supernatural. Stop kidding yourself in thinking that God is pleased with dissension and strife. 

He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

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