Inside: 5 Lessons on Unity in God learned From a Dreaded Weekend
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I was dreading the weekend, but I was going, no matter what. I already paid a large chunk of money, and I wasn’t going to waste that investment.
My church was having a women’s retreat for the first time in over ten years. I wasn’t even planning to go until a trusted friend encouraged me. Even as it got closer, I was apprehensive as to why in the world I signed up for this retreat.
I have never felt a part of the church. I often wonder why I even try.
In addition, I’m most definitely an introvert. It exhausts me to interact with people I don’t know well, and this weekend was going to be full of people who were mere acquaintances.
I thought I had been putting myself out there. I thought myself involved. Ironically, I thought all these things even though I didn’t attend a Sunday school class or Wednesday night class.
Instead on Sundays, I retreat to a solitary area to “rejuvenate”. On Wednesdays, I rush out after dinner to get home in time to have a few minutes to “myself”, and in the supposed interest of getting my young son to bed on time.
In Spite of My Reservations:
So in spite of all my reservations for the week to come, and the anticipation of awkward situations and dreams of running away as fast as I could, the frugal part of me won out.
That, and I reasoned, since I was driving myself, I could choose to just leave at any time. An easy out.
More Than I Could Ask:
Well, I will spare you all the details, but man, did I need this weekend.
Frankly, I was exhausted as I probably didn’t take enough time to have my quiet reenergizing time. But not an exhausting, taxing tired, but rather a reflecting, heart convicting, gut-punching tired.
I shall get to the point by stating a questions posed at the retreat:
Is your church one?
And perhaps, the more important question:
Are you contributing to the unity or the segregation of the church?
For myself, if I’m being completely honest, the answer would be a resounding no.
As with most of my posts, I often write from the lessons God is teaching me as I’m nowhere near perfect, in any way.
I share with you because I know I’m not alone, and I pray as you seek to grow your faith in God that you will listen with an open heart and find encouragement in my words.
The Hard and Scary Truth:
All that being said, the speaker of the conference, Courtney Doctor, spoke some hard truths for me personally, and I believe for our church as well.
** I want to thank Courtney Doctor for her words. The following lessons are a direct reflection on the lessons God taught me through the conference. I hope and pray I have given her honor with my words.
Our lessons came from John 17.
22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.John 17: 22-23 NLT
God is constantly working on our hearts in so many ways. I pray for eyes to see and ears to hear.
The following are the lessons God taught me from the initially dreaded weekend.
1. God’s Timing is Perfect. He is never late.
This is a hard lesson for me, as I like to do things in my own time and am often impatient when things do not progress how quickly I want or think they should.
2. Be In God.
The analogy used was one I have never considered. Being in God is like riding in a plane. You need to be IN the plane, IN God, to get to your destination. Not on the plane, beneath, behind, or in front, but IN the plane.
In the same way, we need to be in the Word of God by reading his word and praying.
3. God is our Lifeline.
If you went sky diving, you would be tethered to a professional. In the same way, so is our life to God. We are tethered to God. Without him, we will fail. (Credit for the analogy give to Courtney Doctor.)
13 “Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. 14 I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.John 17: 13-19 NLT
4. Love each other.
This may seem the most obvious, but it is perhaps the most difficult. We have to be one for people to believe in Jesus. We have to love each other.
“Oneness is not an optional pursuit, it is necessary.“Courtney Doctor
The Son asks the Father four times for this oneness! That statement blew my mind! Of importance, and a note I have failed to see is that Jesus prayed for oneness, not sameness.
20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.John 17: 20-21 NLT
25 “O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. 26 I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”John 17: 25-26 NLT
5. Diversity is Beautiful.
What does Jesus mean when he prays for us to be one? As Courtney stated, within the Trinity, there is deep fellowship and beautiful diversity. God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are all different and beautiful in their own realms, yet they are one.
When Jesus talked about the temple walls being torn down, it was a literal thing that was about to happen as well as figurative. (Mark 13 and Luke 21)
The temple during that time was segregated by walls. Each wall represented different groups of people from the most holy to the poor and homeless. Even women were separated.
When Jesus prayed for unity, he was talking about segregation.
Are we really so different?
Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. has been credited with the following quote:
Sunday morning at 11 am is one of the greatest hours of segregation.
Nothing can be done without Christ. The call to love sends us to the God of love.Courtney Doctor
Now here’s the kicker, and what really spoke to me, not in a gentle way.
What do your friends look like? If they all talk like you, look like you, think like you, then you are not practicing unity.
As God’s people, we are called to be ONE NATION. Is your life and church representing God’s people?
Now before I leave you with a guilt trodden heart and hopeless scenario, let’s look at some practical ways we can reach beyond ourselves without screaming, “Hey I need a black friend, or a Hispanic friend, or a poor friend or a white friend!”
Besides the obvious thought of that not working, what can we do?
I am not sure about you, but my life consists of basically the following.
Take my daughter to school.
Time with my son at home.
Work on my website or go to work
Pick up my daughter from school.
Homework. Dinner. Bedtime.
Repeat, Rinse, Recycle.
So what’s a girl to do who desires to practice that unity that our Heavenly Father desires?
3 Practical Steps:
1. Pray for opportunity. It is glorious and calming to note that we do not have to do it all alone. God says, whatever you ask for in my name, it will be given to you. (Mark 11:24)
2. Expose yourself to new environments. Join a club where different people come together. Sit down next to someone new.
3. Read. Knowledge is power, but until we admit there is a problem, there will never be a solution. Consider the following resources: (These are just a few that I have personally read or am reading. I have many more on my list to be read.)
- Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
- 13th.Documentary. (At the time of this writing, could be found on Netflix.)
- No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert (A fiction read based on facts.)
What other steps do you have to add to this list? What lessons is God speaking into your life? Share in the comments below!
As always, Thanks for reading. Sharing is Caring!
I’ll end today’s post with a classic song remade by one of my favorite groups.
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