On a quiet Friday morning. I was wrapping up my study on Matthew 19:1-12, where we find stuff like divorce, adultery and eunuchs. My thoughts were focused on how to communicate the differences between the heavenly and earthly family in order to focus on a higher calling of belonging to our heavenly family.
When I could sit no more, I took a walk around the church building in thought and prayer. Along the way, I stopped and looked outside to find two interlocking hearts in the snow made by cars randomly coming in and out of the parking lot outside the church. I quickly took a picture in order to preserve this find.
Worried that maybe what I saw in my picture was just my imagination, I showed it to a couple of trustworthy people later that afternoon. To my satisfaction they saw two hearts.
Then I did what any enthusiastic photographer would do:
1. Share on Facebook. Got a few affirmations.
2. Send to my favorite “Geek Talk Show in the Universe” which is CNET’s Tomorrow Daily. Got featured on Episode 126.
And 3. Ponder how a preacher can use such a picture on a Valentine's weekend.
It was almost a week later, that I showed one of the ladies my picture at a daytime Bible study. She saw, “Hearts of unity.”
MY TIE Moment: GRASP God’s Unifying Love
There are many snapshots taken in our churches' moments of life together. These moments can be found in our normal church activities where we regularly come together to celebrate, learn and grow common ground together. Other snapshots might be taken during times of crisis such as illnesses, conflicts, and sudden tragedies. If we were to take a snapshot in any of these given moments in the lifespan of our churches, would we capture a picture of unifying hearts?
As I have pondered my picture of unifying hearts that were captured only in a specific moment, I thought about how Scripture can guide us to gain the abilities to capture unifying hearts in our churches snapshots.
Unifying in God’s love gives us the ability to…
…Gain confidence in the depth of God’s Love
“I am convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s Love.” (Romans 8:38)
The world tries its best to convince each of us that we are lesser value for any reason. Often we will believe because people abandon us so does God. When we know God’s love for the world is that of sacrifice, patience, and even a desire to be present with us, then we are able to respond to God’s love with full confidence. If death cannot separate us from God’s love, then how can we remain divided within our hearts and churches about the great power of God’s love to unify our hearts?
…Remain in God’s Love
“Remain in my love. When you obey me, you remain in my love…” (John 15:9b-10a)
When we choose to obey Christ we will respond in His love. We will choose to accept the title “child of God” as the greatest title we could receive (Matt. 18:4) We will choose to win back a Christian who sins against us (Matt. 18:15). We will choose to forgive others on God’s standard (Matt. 18:21-35). And we will choose to give mercy to others rather than sacrifice as a response to the Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:7-8). We must respond to God’s love if we are to love others with His love in life.
…Assist each other in maturity
“Don’t pretend that you love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” (Rom. 12:9-10)
Hypocrisy is the biggest turn off to church. So why do churches put on a pretend show to love each other by being merely being courteous? There lies a danger that being a courteous congregation disguises itself as being a loving church because there is an absence of conflict. Our love is revealed when conflict arises through lies, gossip, diversity and pressure to agree in biblical non-essentials.
However, if a church is building up a maturity to respond to life on the basis of what is right, stands for what brings out God’s best, and delights in honoring each other as genuine responses of love, then the power of bitter feelings in conflict has a diminishing power over the church. Mature Christians believe God’s glory can overcome all shadows of darkness.
…Strengthen our Response to Bless others
“Finally, all of you should be of one mind, full of sympathy towards each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. Don’t repay evil for evil…Instead pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants you to do…” (1 Peter 3:8-9)
God wants us to be unified in blessing others in any situation. The way to build strength in blessing others is to practice blessing others within the church. One of the greatest ways to be strong in blessing is by building up empathy in the church. Having the ability to understand the difficulties of people’s lives is difficult but not impossible. Meeting the needs of others just because one can gives amazing life to the giver and receiver. Withholding the urge to get back at those who have burned us in the church allows the best opportunity to restore broken relationships.
…Prove we are full of Eternal Life
“If we love our Christians brothers and sisters, it proves we have passed from death to eternal life…” (1 John 3:14)
Loving one another proves that God’s loves is in our churches. We show the ability to grasp how God can enable transformation in all of our circumstances. Without love for one another, then who cares who comes and goes or what the consequences of others misdeeds are. When we fail to love the people in our churches we do not care to correct or bless them. We only care to keep in our church who and what we like and dispose who and what we do not like. This only shows that a worldly love exists in our churches that will crowd out God’s love.
Are we taking seriously the need to GRASP God’s love that will Unify our love in the life of our churches?