Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Steps to Relational Unity

Alan Knox started a chain blog on Real Relationship Unity and the first bloggers did a beautiful job of sharing what Christian unity is - simply put - it is finding unity in Christ alone.  I will try to add to the conversation by breaking down a little more what that means.

I have found that what God is trying to do in our individual lives parallels what God is doing corporately in His Church.  If change always happens from the inside - out and one person at a time, then it makes sense that God unifies His Church by molding hearts one at a time.  And I believe the most effective way He molds hearts is through relationships.

The first step in having relational unity is understanding that I am not perfect. I have to acknowledge that I have strengths and I have weaknesses.

Step two is understanding that God is purposeful in who He puts in our lives.  God molds our hearts by shedding His light on our strengths & weaknesses and He does that best in close honest relationships with others that are different from us.  God purposefully puts people closest to us that are very different from us for a specific reason.

Step three is understanding that although God uses us in each other's lives, it is not our job to focus on other's weaknesses but instead, focus on their strengths.  This is also known as love.  Bringing out the best in others, focusing on Christ in them (the strengths God gifted them with) is a form of love.   God molds us in relationships not when we try to teach each other (aka focusing on or pointing out other's weaknesses) but by having an open heart and looking for the best in each other.  And when we see the best in others, there is always something to learn from that strength in them.  We all instinctively know that God wants to use us in each other's lives, so it is an easy trap to fall into to try to focus on correcting & changing others.  Instead, like everything else in our spiritual walk, we have to surrender what is in our nature and trust and allow God to do His work while we do the humbling (as in being humbled, being humble).

So if we understand we are not perfect, that God is sovereign and deliberately wants us to be around people who are different from us and that He desires us to have an open heart to see what we can learn from others.... then we are ready for relational unity.

If all 3 of these steps are followed, then I do believe we will build each other up in Christ.  And when individuals are built up in Christ - the strengths of each individuals come together to form into Jesus' *perfect* personality.

If instead we do opposite of these 3 steps, we will have relationship division & disaster.  If we think we are superior in knowledge, personality, insight or understanding and don't have anything to learn from others...If we think it is always our job to choose who we want to hang out with (which in our nature, we will always pick people that make us comfortable because they are like us)....And if we are always try to teach others and change others, then our differences will always be central and the focus of our relationship and nobody will grow.  We will not be able to build each other up.... and what is then seen corporately is all the weaknesses lifted up...which does not represent our perfect Jesus. :(

Each of these steps I wrote about on an individual level can be applied corporately.  Denominations, just like individual personalities, have strengths & weaknesses.  Every single one of them!  No organization is perfect just like no individual is perfect.  No theologian is perfect. Nothing and nobody is perfect --- but together, all our strengths are being built up and point to the One who is perfect.   Our strengths ARE Jesus living through us! Amazing!!

I do believe relational unity with extreme diversity is always possible, and not only possible, but it is God's design for us.   God did not gift any one person with all possible strengths.  God did not gift any denomination/group with all possible revelation/insight.  God did not gift any set of people with all possible passions & strengths.  But ALL those strengths together are all perfect, like our Lord!  The strengths of everything fit together perfectly... in a balanced crazy paradox. We can have unity across denominations, theological differences, generations, socioeconomic status and among individual personalities.

This post is getting too long.... but I would love to write another post on specifically what unity among different personalities looks like.

This blog sounds a lot like a blog I just wrote not too long ago on personalities.
The Personality of the Body

Thanks for letting me share!!

Chain blog rules:
1) If you would like to write the next blog post (link) in this chain, leave a comment stating that you would like to do so. If someone else has already requested to write the next link, then please wait for that blog post and leave a comment there requesting to write the following link.
2) Feel free to leave comments here and discuss items in this blog post without taking part in the actual “chain.” Your comments and discussion are very important in this chain blog (both on this post and the other link posts in the chain).
3) When you write a link in this chain, please reply in the comments of the previous post to let everyone know that your link is ready. Also, please try to keep an updated list of links in the chain at the bottom of your post, and please include these rules at the bottom of your post.

“Links” in the “Real Relational Unity” chain blog:

1. “Chain Blog: Real Relational Unity” by Alan
2. “The Treasure of Unity ‘in’ our Relationships” by Jim
3. “So The World May Know – Observations on the Road to Unity” by Christopher
4. “Christian Unity – What it is and What it’s not” by Nathan
5. “Steps to Relational Unity” by Randi
6. “Learn to Live or Live to Learn” by Greg
7. “The Limits on Unity” by Arthur
8. “Joints of Supply” by David
9. “Some Examples of Real Relational Unity” by Alan
10. “An Example of Relational Unity” by Greg
11. “Relational Unity Begins at Home” by Kathleen
12. Who will write the 12th link post in the chain?

Sunday, April 21, 2013


I just finished the devotional, Jesus Calling.  I read along every day for a year straight and it was such a blessing to me.  I think the best seed God planted in my heart through it was how important it is to really keep my heart open to hearing His voice in the scriptures.  When I read the Bible now, I do listen for His message to me underneath what I'm reading.

As I sat and thought about the devotional, He kept pressing on me this word, "breathe".  One of my best girl friends and I (and my mom too!) always encourage each other with this word in times of stress.  "Breathe....one step at a time... breathe" are common texts between us.  I kept thinking about the breath of life God breathed into Adam.... and as I sat meditating on this, I do feel the Lord gave me a message for my friend that is intensely struggling right now.... and for my own heart as well.  Here is what I typed and gave to her:


I am the source & sustainer of your life.  

When I breathed into Adam the breath of life (Gen 2:7) it was a foreshadowing of the plan I had prepared for my children.

John 20:22 …He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit”…

For you (my daughter) every breath you take physically is a reminder of the sustaining I am giving to your soul moment by moment.

When you feel my presence and when you don’t…when you feel fully alive and when you feel lifeless – I am sustaining you, always! You are alive and you will be breathing for eternity! I am keeping your faith life intact and always will, for.ev.er!

I don’t want you to worry about how many breaths you will take on this earth.  In fact, don’t think about that at all.  I know exactly every breath you will take on this earth. I don’t want you to know.  

Instead, let every breath you take be a reminder to you that you are one breath closer to seeing me face to face.  You are one breath closer to being fully enclosed in the shadow of my wings , fully healed, fully satisfied.  Let that hope encourage your soul & give you the fuel necessary to focus on the present moment you are breathing in.

You can’t see me face to face yet… but my children at any time can be still and know that it is my breath they are breathing and that closeness will give the peace & love that is needed to take one step forward. 

Just like I don’t give you ALL the air you will need for the rest of your life at any given moment, I will only give you what you need (peace, joy, strength) one moment at a time. So focus on right now.  Don’t allow anxiety to enter as you compare what you have now to what may or may not be ahead.   It’s true, you don’t have enough for what is ahead – but don’t be fooled – you don’t need anymore than what you have right now! And when you get to the next moment, you will have enough then, too.

Every time you are full of dread, fear or heartache and find yourself saying, “breathe” – know that that moment, too, is a gift from me!

When you are nudging yourself to just “breathe” - that is my spirit in you drawing your attention back to the sustainer of your life.  It is me reminding you how close I am to you – so close that I am not only right here with you – but it is MY breath of life in you. 

So fill those lungs my child!!  Have grace for yourself every time you lose focus and praise me for the tough times because when all you can do is “breathe” then all you are doing is focusing on me!

I have great plans for you my child and through each moment, my breath of life in you will be sustaining you. 

Breathe and know that I am God and you are mine!