Open Heart Surgery

Each year, people pay out millions of pounds for psychotherapists, therapists and counsellors, to help them unravel and fix their inner pain………. God knows what’s going on in our internal worlds and can help us fix them!

Do you know that surgeons can address more than one artery in a single operation? A double bypass, triple bypass, and quadruple bypass involves two, three or four arteries being repaired in a single surgical procedure.

Our hidden hearts (inner worlds) need fixing too; the home that houses our thoughts, feelings and emotions, where we register pain, hurt, rejection, fear, sadness, shame, jealousy, guilt, bitterness and grief. And yes, you guessed right; sometimes we need more than one part of our heart repaired in a single operation but just how do our hidden hearts get fixed?

‘Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being, for from there flows the wellspring of life’ – Prov 4:23.

As intricate as physical heart operations are, trained medical Doctor’s carry out numerous operations each day, repairing hearts that go on to function successfully throughout the duration of a person’s lifespan.

God is the only one who sees the unseen and can fix our hidden, hurting, broken hearts.

Many times in our lives, we go through seasons where the arteries, or wounds that need fixing and healing are internal. Some of these wounds, affecting both adults and young people, date back to events that took place in our childhoods. Each year, people pay out millions of pounds for psychotherapists, therapists and counsellors, to help them unravel and fix the inner pain and turmoil that mystifies and hampers them from experiencing wholesome living.

Our Mental Health facilities are full of people locked up in emotional prisons from which they desperately desire to be set free from and many of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors given to treat depressive illnesses, not only have unwanted side effects but many times are not effective in getting to the root cause of why a person is fearful, anxious or depressed.

‘Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression…’ Pro 12:25 (A)

When a person has a broken toe or foot it’s obvious, because the break causes a limp when they attempt to walk but when they have a broken heart, spirit, or are depressed, suicidal or experiencing the hurt of rejection, many times it goes undetected, until the person finds themselves in a state of emotional crisis; where anxiety is out of control or the person has turned to substance misuse, cutting or other quick fixes to help them cope with their internal pain.

Our human bodies were not created to house negative emotions, and when our hearts get clogged up and blocked, we experience the pain in a psychosomatic sense (mind – psyche and body – soma); headaches, chest pains, stomach disorders and other such symptoms, which explains why many times, people come back from the doctor’s surgery perplexed and with negative test results – the root of the symptoms they are experiencing point to broken emotions.

‘Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts’ – Psalm 139:23.

God knows what’s going on in our inner worlds and can help us fix them! If you need a surgical procedure done on your hidden heart, He’s the expert that can give you a diagnosis for your symptoms and successfully carry out any repair work that needs to be done.

Are you ready to be freed from your inner torment? Will you let Him into the hidden places of your heart? It’s not going to be without pain, no surgical procedure ever is, but once the infection is cleaned out and removed, the renewal on the inside will be well worth the ultimate surgeon’s scalpel!

The one-night stand

Truth is, it’s your story, my story; YES ME and YOU. The one-night stand… How many times have we felt the touch of Father God’s loving embrace, only for us to rush away and revert to living life on our own, without Him?

In the frenzy of the moment it was done. His erection was over; my animalistic hunger satisfied. The heat was intense, raw passion bringing our blood to boiling point. With a deadened coldness, we wiped our mouths with the back of our hands, put our clothes back on and parted ways…

You’ll be forgiven for thinking this is a scene from the book ’50 shades of Grey’ or some other Netflix series. Truth is, it’s your story, my story… YES ME and YOU. The one-night stand.

How many times have we felt the touch of Father God’s loving embrace, welled up with tears as the ecstasy of a moment in His presence melts our hurts and calms our fears, only for us to rush away and revert to living life on our own, without Him?

God’s love means He never turns us away when we come to Him but is this any reason to USE Him in the way that we do? Yes, these are strong words! I have visions of Him standing there, yearning for us, watching, as we wipe our mouths with the back of our hands and callously walk away, after experiencing moments of satisfaction in His presence.

We steal intimate moments without intent to commit to the One Who gave His life and laid down His all for us. The One Who died in our place. There is a reason why He calls us His bride. Brides are meant to be intimate with and spend their lives in continued union with the one they vow to love.

Do we really love God? Do we?

The next time we turn our noses up at a distasteful, casual sexual scene on Netflix, we need to ask ourselves the question, ‘Am I in a one-night stand kind of relationship with God?’

Hush, don’t rush to give an answer; let’s prayerfully ask God to help us answer this question… truthfully. Only He knows the depths of our hearts.

Psalm 139: Look deep into my heart, God, and find out everything I am thinking (CEV).

Are you listening?

We’re not hearing, talk less of listening. The world is screaming at us from every angle. How often do we intentionally spend time alone, switch of our phones, take time off social media and shut out the ‘other’ voices?

I remember God telling me twelve years ago, that I hadn’t learnt the art of listening. I was in conversation with someone at the time, and though I could hear the sounds and syllables of what this person was saying, truth is, I wasn’t listening. God showed me this was my regular habit and encouraged me to pay attention and LISTEN when communicating with others.

You’d be forgiven, if like me you assume that listening to another person isn’t a big deal. I jumped at the opportunity to test myself, the next time a 1-2-1 conversation presented itself.

I consciously made a point of listening intently to what this other person was saying. As she spoke, I found my mind more occupied with how I was planning to respond to her words and comments, than listening to what she was saying. At these points, I understood I wasn’t listening and forced my attention to tune into her words, not just hear the inflections and tonation of her voice.

GOD is SPEAKING… are you listening?

To erroneously conclude that we cannot hear the voice of God is an untruth… God is always speaking and He longs for us to pay attention to what He is saying!

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me”-John 10:27 (NIV).

There are many voices clamouring for a space in our heads; which one will you listen to?

I’ve fallen in love with the story in 1 Kings 19: 4-12, recounting Elijah’s experience of hearing the voice of God. He was threatened by a woman named Jezebel and fled for safety, leaving even his servant behind. He was alone, spent the night in a cave and in this state he recognised the voice of God.

It says,

There he went into a cave and spent the night.

And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

A gentle whisper – another version calls it, ‘a still small voice’. How will we ever hear him if we don’t quieten ourselves? He’s not in the hype, not in the noise.

The world is screaming at us from every angle.

How often do we intentionally spend time alone, switch of our phones, take time off social media and shut out the ‘other’ voices because we want to hear God’s voice? We’re not hearing, talk less of listening. Is it any wonder we don’t know what He is saying?

Frances J. Roberts said,

“Silence will speak more to you in a day than the world of voices can teach you in a lifetime. Find silence. Find solitude – and having discovered her riches, bind her to your heart”.

Francis J. Roberts

Will you make the choice to listen out for what He longs to say to you today and every day?

Into the wilderness

A trouble-free life devoid of difficulty is a caricatured, false image of the life that we have been called to…

Though we search and seek for God, His ways are past searching out. I love nothing more than to be led by God’s Spirit, whether that’s to speak to someone about Jesus, pray for someone, share something that He has laid on my heart or bless someone materially, however yesterday, God taught me about another way He leads His children.

I had half an hour to spare before I jumped into the shower to get ready for work, so I took a walk. I wasn’t led to take my normal route by the Pier but to take a route adjacent to a School that backed onto the woods near where I live.

I reasoned that if God was asking me to take a different route, He had something in mind that He wanted me to do. Would I bump into someone that needed to hear how much God loved them? Was there someone that needed my encouragement or help?

While I walked wondering, the Scripture, ‘Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil’ (Matt 4:1), flashed across my mind and an emphasis settled on ‘Jesus being led into the wilderness by the Spirit’.

It dawned on me it was God’s prerogative and idea for Jesus to be tempted! The same Spirit that led Jesus to save, touch, heal, set free and deliver; led Jesus into a time of testing and trial.

Freedom comes for us, when we realise that the difficulties that we are experiencing have been orchestrated by God to release His life within us. God is working out His purposes in us through the testing and trials He takes us through.

Now back to my walk… I love the colours of Autumn and the sound of the crisp leaves being crushed under foot but guess what happened to me yesterday? I hit my right toe against a stone, on a spot where it already hurts (I’ve got a dodgy right toe – believing for God to complete His healing!), then I slipped! I’m thanking God I didn’t fall flat on my bum, then a few minutes after I had regained my balance, I slid down a muddy bit of the trail I was walking along!

God was speaking to me and I grasped clearly what He was saying – “sometimes I will lead you into difficult places, into trials and testing and it’s all still part of my plan”.

A trouble-free life devoid of difficulty is a caricatured, false image of the life that we have been called to as God’s children.

Remember Paul, remember the early Apostles? Hebrews 11: 37 (AMPC) says,

‘They were stoned to death; they were lured with tempting offers [to renounce their faith]; they were sawn asunder; they were slaughtered by the sword [while they were alive]; they had to go about wrapped in the skins of sheep and goats, utterly destitute, oppressed, cruelly treated’…

Paul said about his experience as a follower of Jesus:

“Are they ministers of Christ? – I speak as a fool – I am more: in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep…”, 2 Cor 11: 23 (b) – 25 (NKJV)

These are only a few of the things that he experienced, as he goes on to reel off a long list of other tragedies, trials and difficulties he experienced.

When we realise that God (not the enemy) is in control of our lives when we live submitted to Him, we are able to rest in Him, knowing that everything; even the difficult circumstances of our lives are fully under His control.

What difficult circumstances are you facing today? Are you going through a trial, time of testing or hardship? Rest assured that as long as you are walking in His will, He is in control and He has a plan. Don’t waste your energy or breath screaming at the devil; when God is the one at work in you. Praise Him through your trials, submit to His dealings! Recognise that He is at work, growing you, bringing out the gold in you. He knows what He is doing… let Him have His way.

Ugly bits

Fillers for the lips, Botox for our wrinkles, dye for the greys, butt lifts for the behind…… the decay is here to stay, well in this earthly realm.

Why do we cover up our ugly bits? Why are we so bent on portraying a flawless image to the world? An unattainable Utopian ideal.

I caught myself looking at pictures of me and wishing all my unwanted bits away. I mean, I gym, I jog, I eat healthy but the struggle to hold on to a youthful body is real… perhaps you’ve felt it too… I mean the struggle.

But we don’t just do this with externals, we do it with our internals as well… we hide away in shame, cover up our sin, pretend all is well.

Fillers for the lips, Botox for our wrinkles, dye for the greys, butt lifts for the behind; we’re obsessed with perfection.

The one night stand, the obsession with pornography, the addiction to food, cannabis and crack. The depression, suicidal thoughts, self-hatred and low self-esteem. The constant comparison of ourselves with other flawed human beings.

The Scriptures tell us, “No one is acceptable to God, not even one – Romans 3:10

We can touch up our pics with filters or photoshop, but the truth is; the decay is here to stay, well in this earthly realm.

Adam and eve put paid to any hope for perfection that we could ever hope for and though we mask up in faked glory, inside and out, we’re all but flawed human beings.

What if I told you there is a way out – it’s like this, when you plant a seed, the outer shell dies and in its place, a plant or flower of immense beauty emerges and begins to grow.

Well that’s exactly what happens when we receive the seed of Jesus into our hearts. He fills our houses of clay (yes we’re made of mud and to mud we will all return) with the seed of His word and His Spirit, then a new creation is birthed, and an inner transformation begins.

God had it all mapped out, an amazing plan to save us from our decay! The thing is, He hates the flakiness and lying that He sees in us; and can only help us when we’re transparent and admit that we need His help,

But you want complete honesty, so teach me true wisdom – Psalm 51:6.

Our pride and ego will get us nowhere, we’ve got to come clean, spill the beans; all the sordid details, to Him (no need to go confessing to a priest!).

When we do this, he cleans us up and fills us with the seed of His word and His Spirit. A metamorphosis like no other takes place, believe me, I’m a prototype of His new seed!

The wrinkles won’t suddenly disappear nor will you suddenly become exempt from the difficulties that life in this realm has to offer but ‘your youth will be renewed like the eagles’. You will experience hope, real joy, the assurance of love and acceptance by the greatest being in the Universe (God), and the hope of spending eternity in heaven – now that serves the deathblow to any foreboding fear of death that may have plagued our beautiful minds!

Ready to make that move right Now? Dear God, I’m done, faking, pretending and hiding. I’m coming clean, I hate what I have become on the inside and want the seed of your word and your Spirit to transform my life. Forgive me for my wrong. Jesus come and live in my heart (say this sincerely; from your heart).

Any questions? DM me @evol_teragram

Warrior

It’s time to wage war with every word that God has spoken over you, over your spouse, over your children. The warfare has been intense and the opposition fierce, but you held on, you didn’t cave in or give up… well done warrior Princess!

The rejection, the hurt, the abuse, the betrayal.

The molestation.

You are no victim. You stood your ground; even though people around you had no inkling of the fight that you were going through.

Arise, dust yourself off, the battle has been won.

The negative words of the adversary, echoed by those around you are lies, they were always lies.

Royalty, that’s who you are.

Chosen.

Forgiven much, that you may also forgive much.

Loved, so that you also may love much.

Blessed, that you may also be a blessing to the others; the many.

The seeds.

The ones who will struggle, shed silent tears, despair but rise.

Lift up your gaze,

The spoils of war litter the battlefield behind.

Help yourself to the spoils of war,

They are yours.

Copyright © 2020 Margaret Love. All rights reserved.

 

 

Who’s Centre stage?

All too often, we hear the behind the scenes stories of people that have taken that route, empty, depressive lives, devoid of satisfaction and an emptiness on the inside that nothing of material value can fill…………….. Are we ready to re-position our hearts?

Do you know what it means to be out of sync, to have things the wrong way round, like a child who’s got shoes on the wrong feet, the left foot on the right and the right foot on the left? Most of us view our lives as God’s children, with us as the focal point; almost as if God is positioned to help us fulfill our plans but that’s just the problem, that whole premise, is completely the wrong way round!

We have been positioned here on earth to fulfill His plans. The dreams and visions He places in our hearts are not for us to take centre stage but for Him to rule, so that He can move through us to work out His plans and purposes.

In today’s self-focused world, it’s important that we ensure that Jesus is the centre. Israel Houghton sang a song that’s been going through my heart this week, some of the words read:

‘Jesus be the centre of your Church (2ce)
From beginning till the end, it will always be
It’s always been you Jesus, Jesus
Nothing else matters, nothing in this world will do
Jesus you’re the centre and everything revolves around you
Jesus you…’

Being used by God is such an exhilarating experience, which should bring us, in humility to our knees… that God, the creator of the whole Universe would entrust Himself to us and allow His life to flow and move through us to touch others is amazing!

steve-halama-oC1sQVnf_EY-unsplash
Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

It’s as we allow Him to use us, to lead and we follow, that we truly realise that it is God at work through us.

Let’s take some time out to re-evaluate if our talents, gifting or whatever it is that God has placed into our hands, is centred on us or if we’re allowing Him to flow through us, to use the gifting, opportunities and platforms He has given us, for His glory.

No doubt, our gifting can be harnessed and used without the expression of God at work through them, but that gives rise to stress, competition and striving to make a name for ourselves but God is saying, “let me lead… you follow”.

It’s stressful trying to please and fit into the worlds perception of what they think we should do with the dreams, ideas, gifting, talents, opportunities and platforms that He gives us.

All too often, we hear the behind the scenes stories of people that have taken that route, empty, depressive lives, devoid of satisfaction and an emptiness on the inside that nothing of material value can fill… the fame, power, drugs and sex, deepening the void, many eventually choosing to commit suicide; Kate Spade, Caroline Flack, Robbie Williams and Avicii to name just a few.

In the book of Acts 9: 15, referring to Saul of Tarsus and God’s plans for His life, the Lord responded to Ananias’ reluctance to pray for Him with the words,

“Go for He is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My Name before Gentiles, Kings and the children of Israel”.

Saul (who became Paul), was a chosen vessel! As God’s children, that’s what we are – VESSELS. Are we ready to re-position our hearts and lives today, to live in the reality of this truth?

Dear Father, you are the potter, I am the clay. Forgive me for times when I’ve thought it was all about me, when my self-centredness has hindered the plans you have for me. Today, I reset my heart to allow you to live through me. I give you my dreams, talents and gifts. Use them as you choose.

Know no man after the flesh!

Do we really know anyone? I mean really know, the under the surface heart-like knowing…… The guy whose face is plastered all over the front pages of the tabloids for sexual offences, do we know him?

There’s a couple I met a few years ago, who I’ve seen and interacted with on a few occasions. It’s been a brief acquaintance. It’s funny how you can meet someone and think you know them, just because you’ve interacted with them a few times but the one who knows us, and all things completely is God.

‘Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me completely.’

1 Corinthians 13:12

A chance video I stumbled across on social media opened up a vast window into a world largely unknown to me, lived by this beautiful couple. I came away from my discovery, feeling refreshed, more in tune with the intention of their hearts and understanding that there was so much more to them than could be seen from externals, a few chance meetings and brief conversations.

Do we really know anyone…? I mean really know, the under the surface, heart-like knowing… the bare ‘when nobodies around’ truest essence of who people are? The guy whose face is plastered all over the front pages of the tabloids for sexual offences, the road man that peddles drugs on the local estates near where we live, do we know them?

I hear your silent No.

We’re quick to run our mouths, jump to conclusions, make assumptions, estimations and inferences about who we think people are!

Is it any wonder then, that God asks us not to judge anything before the appointed time, when all things will be laid bare and He exposes the true motives of hearts? (1 Corinthians 4:5).

We know nobody!

That road man we shake our heads at, may actually be, purposed, in the plan of God;  to be an instrument like ‘Paul’ (the Apostle). We never see the full picture of who a person is, why they act the way they do, the real root of the reasons for their actions and even social media only tells half the story (if that), with lots of bits edited out.

If we’re really going to be the people that God has called us to be in 2020 and beyond, to be an expression of His love to a confused world, a broken society of disaffected hurting people, we must learn to refrain from making assumptions about who people are.

I’ll never forget the day God showed me His heart for gay people… YES, Father God loves gay people! I came away from a conversation around ‘God’s love’ with a gay guy I met in a shopping mall, with tears in my eyes.

‘so we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know Him now!’ – 2 Corinthians 5:16 (NLT)

I felt God’s love for Him saturate my heart, as I spoke to Him and told him unapologetically that God loved him. I could literally see the exterior wall guarding his heart start to crumble, as he shared that he was from a Christian family who disdained him because of the lifestyle he had chosen.

I was enabled to tell him that Jesus came to save all of us from our sinful nature (the root cause of all sin) but loves us unconditionally. I also added that God surely loved him enough to make sure I bumped into him twice on the same day (can you believe that!), just to tell him that He loves Him and wants him to know that love too!

He responded by saying he was quite intuitive, felt that this was more than a mere coincidence and believed that there was a deeper reason for our chance meeting.

It was a start, a bridge to a frozen heart that felt rejected, hurt and unloved… God has the blue print and is the only one who knows who each person really is.

Let’s keep building bridges…

 

 

The blind leading the blind

The hype begins, in fact, it has already started – ‘2020 The Year of this and that’, ‘3 ways to…’, ‘How to…’, I’m sure you get the picture

I have an older friend in her seventies who’s hilarious. She told me about a singing performance that she had agreed to. She was going to sing a hymn but take the bold step of singing it in her native language; Yoruba.

On the day after the performance, I called her up to ask her how it went, she replied with the words, “it was a disaster with a capital D!” Even before she’d finished the sentence I was cracking up with laughter.

She said even though she’d practiced the song over and over, when the moment of reckoning came, it suddenly dawned on her that her brain was not like it was some thirty odd years ago. The overhead projection of words promised her didn’t materialise and try as she might, to read the words from her phone through the lenses of her glasses, she still couldn’t see them!

She ended up fumbling over the words of the verse and then latching on to the only part of the song that she could remember clearly, repeating the words of the chorus over and over; like an iTunes song on repeat!

To her horror, while she was stood, hoping that the ground would open up to swallow her, members of her Church congregation took to their feet, dancing; while two brave old ladies took the lead, danced to the front where she stood, forming a troupe and joining in the ‘confused dot com’ singing with her.

She commented jokingly to me during our conversation, that from the back of the car that disastrous evening, she could hear her Pastor happily humming the tune of the mashed-up hymn she’d sung, as he drove her home on his merry way!

I hope you found the re-enaction of this scenario as funny as I did but on a more serious note, many of us live our lives just like the Church congregation mentioned above, blindly following the blind.

My friend had made a complete hash of the song but the unsuspecting congregation, oblivious to the fact that she was fumbling and couldn’t remember the words, had joined in singing; dancing to a faulty rendition of a song.

As we enter into a New Year, the hype begins, in fact, it has already started – ‘2020 The Year of this and that’, ‘3 ways to…’, ‘How to…’, I’m sure you get the picture.

‘But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.’ – Daniel 12:4

Words from the lips of voices spewed across social media; Politicians, Celebrities, Social Media influencers, Instagrammers, You Tubers and Face bookers alike, will offer a multitude of suggestions, ideologies, philosophies and beliefs for us to feed our minds on and follow but there is one distinct voice I’d like to encourage you to listen out for…

Incline your ear, and come to me. Hear and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you – the sure mercies of David. – Isaiah 55:3

Yes, precious one, it’s the voice of God, the one who holds the truth, given to us in His son Jesus. It’s a voice that can’t be heard in the clutter of noise or the hype; a voice worth seeking for!

Let’s be like the Berean Christians, who were open-minded and searched the Scriptures daily to see if the message of salvation was true (Acts 17:11) and like the ‘sons of Issachar’, who understood the times, to know what Israel should do (1 Chronicles 12:32).

Jesus stated confidently, that ‘He is the way, the truth and the life… don’t you think we ought to listen out for what He has to say?

Commune Unity

I guess we all have our strengths and weaknesses as people groups……. this is what He has called us to – young and old, black and white, rich and poor; a coming together of all

I stopped, looked around, and stood listening to the noise and buzz of voices in the Refresh cafe. It was a moment of revelation, the Lord made me think the words ‘commune’ and ‘unity’, this is what He has called us to – young and old, black and white, rich and poor; a coming together of all, as one under Christ.

This may seem like a tall order, but this should be our norm. The acceptance of our cultural differences, knowing that Christ is all and in all. Our cultural nuances fade into the background as we become immersed in Kingdom culture…the culture of heaven. How beautiful that Christ expresses Himself through us in different flavours, through the young, the old, the Mexican, the Swiss, the Nigerian, but all is Christ.

I remember an incident once, that I now regret deeply. Steeped in the comfort of my cultural familiarity, hanging out with a group of people of similar ethnicity, I laughed at a sarcastic comment made about the idiosyncrasies of the people around us who were culturally different. I immediately felt uncomfortable and reprimanded by the Holy Spirit.

I experienced a move of God through the preaching of a man culturally different to majority of the people present at a worship event…God’s Spirit moved powerfully through him. In conversation with somebody about the meeting a week later, I was saddened to hear a comment someone had made about his estimation of the man’s preaching the previous week.

That comment threw a dampener on the treasured encounter I’d experienced, as I listened intently to that very same preacher the previous week.

During a leadership meeting a while back, discussion ensued around a subject two different racial groups of young Christians had opposing views on. I could feel the adrenaline rising up within me as someone commented on how they couldn’t understand how one of the groups of young Christians couldn’t see things from the perspective of the other group.

Assumptions had been made, that suggested one racial group of young Christians was right and the other wrong. Conversation centred around the opinion that this particular group always ended their prayers with a specific declaration that the other racial group (plus majority of the leaders) were unfamiliar with, and therefore deemed unnecessary and irrelevant.

I hear this same prejudice echoed through the expressions and voices of my own children, through the giggling voices of the young students that huddle together in tight knit cultural cocoons upstairs on their bus journeys to and from School.

I see it in the natural formations of groupings that tend to occur when various people of differing ethnicity are thrown together in the same space. Galatians 3:28 says:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

And Colossians 3:11 reiterates this by saying:

“Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, Barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.”

jens-johnsson-oatYheJMm9E-unsplash
Photo by Jens Johnsson on Unsplash

Community requires us to become uncomfortable, to step outside of our norms and comfort zones. Right now, we only embrace cultural differences on our own terms… when we travel abroad on holiday and savour the different foods and ways of life of the indigenous people of the nations we visit. But to live-in close-knit community with them? Now that’s a different story!

Have you ever considered what it must have taken Jesus to leave the glory, comforts and familiarity of heaven to live among a depraved culture of human beings? A specie of self-focused, self-seeking, loveless people.

Jesus took it one step further, He took it upon Himself to die for us humans, while we were still His enemies! How about that for any of us who are struggling to bond with our brothers and sisters in Christ from differing ethnicities.

The subject of racial divides has plagued the world for centuries, and is something that activists like Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela fought hard to eradicate but in recent times; filtering through from the European migrant crisis, the wake of the Brexit referendum and racial riots/protests in places like the USA (New York City, Chicago, St. Paul, Baton Rouge – 2016), racial relations have started to deteriorate.

To commune is to have people living together, sharing possessions and responsibilities and to be unified is to be one, joined as a whole. The concept of community, unity and love is the basis on which God’s Kingdom is founded.

God laid the foundation for Community when He brought the Jews and Gentiles together as one in Christ. Paul openly lashed out at Peter in a bid to eradicate division and prevent it taking root in the heart and minds of God’s people when he became hypocritical about mixing with the Gentiles:

But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy
– Gal 2:11 – 13

We are none of us perfect and I guess we all have our strengths and weaknesses as people groups, so why don’t we turn it on its head, encourage and tease out the strengths in us, as a diverse body of believers.

One heart, mind, vision, people, and purpose all under God. The Father, son and Holy Spirit are one, in three expressions… the Father – protector, defender, authority, lover, the Son – embodiment of the Father, brother, sacrifice, the Holy Spirit – helper, comforter, friend.

Likewise, we are one body; one people with different strengths and graces, forming one new race… one new humanity.