The common element that seems to be consistent in human culture is an aversion to agreement. It would seem the chords of disorder and chaos are preferred to common discord, unity and agreement. Rather than discuss grievances as men of faith and reason, man prefers simply to re-create his own empire apart from those who do not see eye to eye. The unfortunate result is a community of many divisions. In straying from one another we only further divide what unites humanity in its uniqueness, a communion of souls. In seeking reformation man ceases to listen and when agreement cannot be reached, rather than apply prayer, patience and mercy, he simply leaves to create another world where his truth reigns. What we’re left with is a world of many worlds, and the world of the Kingdom of God seems further shattered and far from unity. But alas, perhaps I protest too much or maybe Martin Luther would agree with me.
These have been the thoughts stirring in my heart over these past few months. It’s not a new thought. At first it came at news of a dear friends divorce. I wanted to shout, “No! You’ll be sorry when you’re stronger. Why don’t you stay, dear heart, stay in the fight. Instead of thinking your freedom lies in leaving, why don’t you stay?” But I knew her answer well. It was once my own.
When you’re in the battle it’s hard to see the battleground. Even harder to see the victory is close at hand.
I justified her response like I once did my own, “I’m not like you.” It stung. Not because of the words, but because I could still recall the wounds of my youth that had led me to shout the same lies. And I was very convincing, to myself, and to others. How could I blame her?
Watching the events of these last 9 months unfold has been a bit all too close for memory, as well. Perhaps its partly due to the fact I myself just gave birth to my third child in the midst of all the tumult. Like an arduous pregnancy, filled with uncertainty, it would seem we are giving birth to what was hidden and the outcome is leaving many in breathless anticipation of what it will look like. Will it look like me? Will it look more like you?
Much unlike the union between a man and a woman, we cannot claim this child solely for ourselves. This is not an American baby. This child belongs to the world. It’s conception was inseminated by the consciousness of all. And I would dare to say, even more, we are each responsible for it also. The question remains, after the birth, how long will you stay? Will you stay at all? And, could we blame you if you go?
I think by now you might have realized I’m speaking about more than just divorce. A statistic that nearly doubled during quarantine, by the way. And no one blinked an eye or shook their head, as though such a division is acceptable. I’m speaking now about governmental unions, Church solidarity, marriages and families, friendships and communities, and the latest social media exodus. I am speaking about relationships.
It would seem in light of Jesus’ mission to unite the world in love, mankind has chosen instead to divide the world in pride. Pride in not listening to a brother who is moved by hypocrisy. A pride that had it not been present by church leaders at the time might have come to greater enlightenment and seen the transformation of Martin Luther take place in the confines of a united church. A pride that continues still today in church leaders everywhere and across denominations when it rejects a transformation back to unity. Where is mercy for the church leadership today? I have to wonder if Martin Luther himself would tack a new 95 thesis against the church at large for not having agreed to find its way back to common agreement and unity.
If the good sir’s reputation were considered, I think he might protest his own name as it has been applied against the truths he loved. It’s as though what he protested is all that remains and all that he loved was rejected.
And so it is all too common among men and women in relationship also. How often we allow the protests of our heart to divide what God has united. We separate and make our own kingdoms. We justify our protests and reject what love once enlightened. We prefer our separateness to our union. Have we forgotten to consider the discourse? What if instead of leaving when we didn’t agree, we learned how to stay?
What if we could learn to love and simply disagree. Or better yet, by our presence let love bring us to unity. Absence cannot multiply what is not present. It is only through relationship that we have any hope of unity. In this way, dear friend, we are very much alike. We may not have the same set of circumstances, obstacles, or opportunities, but we do have the same choice to be in relationship with each other. We do actually need one another.
The beautiful and meek saint of our times, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who was a passionate advocate for the life of the unborn, also once said, “If we have no peace it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
Luther’s protests may have been a necessary catalyst to much needed reformation but how many of us would be willing to seek a unifying transformation. Or have we grown too familiar with our discord and our kingdoms to consider another kingdom not our own?
I’m reminded of today’s liturgical readings from the Book of Ezekiel, 1 Corinthians and the Gospel of John. Juxtaposed against each other they present a very clarifying answer for the birthing that we are all about to experience. I pray the Lord will open your eyes to see. In an advanced prophetic training exercise, an angel of the Lord asks the prophet Ezekiel, “Son of man, do you see this?” and the mature prophet responds:
Brothers and sisters, Emmanuel has set himself here with us. He is the Living Water that flows from the Sanctuary that was torn down and rebuilt in our hearts on the third day. For all those who believe, the Spirit of Christ flows through YOU! Perhaps it’s time for the church to set aside its pride and consider where we might remain also. Rather than running to hide from the world in the safety of our upper rooms, might we choose to stay among the world making things fresh by the presence of our salty waters and the flow of the Spirit mixing in us, watering the world and helping all that is living and can multiply to do so, now, in a time that so desperately needs the fruit of a culture of life after too many generations having been aborted in a culture of death. Dearest Ones, I am hoping what is about to be birthed is Christ Alive in YOU!
It is my heartfelt prayer for our nation, for my dear friends contemplating divorce, for the world, and for all those suffering from the sting of broken relationships that they will soon see the glory of God in the land of the living exampled in the communion of souls who have chosen to answer the question “Why don’t you stay?” with the conviction of one in total union with the God who stays, Emmanuel, with whom we echo: I will stay, with you, always. From now, until the end of the age.
“Stay in the fight ’til the final round.” 2 Timothy 4:7
Friends, I would like to strongly encourage you to get equipped for the battle that lies ahead of us. If you’re looking for further understanding on how the power of the Holy Spirit flows through you, I invite you to check out one of these equipping schools. South Florida friends are invited to join me at the NEW Palm Beach location beginning 2021. Be sure to follow us on Facebook at Encounter Ministries South Florida facebook.com/EncounterSoFLo or send us your email through our Contact List and we will make sure you are on our school correspondence list.
Now is the Time, to let the Spirit flow! As we declare together, Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. The Kingdom of God is here to stay.
Christ’s entire mission is summed up in this: to baptize us in the Holy Spirit, to free us from the slavery of death and “to open heaven to us”.(SOLEMNITY OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD, Sunday, 13 January 2008, Pope Benedict XVI)