this should not be

Let's face facts. Relationships are difficult. Friendships cost us something. People can be mean and selfish. People can hurt us. But, to quote the epistle of James, " Brothers {and Sisters} these things should not be" {James 3:10b}.

James is right. We should bless our brothers and sisters. We should love them, encourage them, strengthen them, fight with them, fight for them.

I grew up in a home with two other sisters.  We love each other very much, but we can tear one another down more than anybody else. Maybe it has something to do with living in the same bedroom for the majority of our lives, or maybe it was sharing the bathroom (ugh), but there are few people that can hurt me worse than my sisters. 

The same is true for me. I've hurt my sisters many times. Sometimes I knew I was hurting them.  Other times it was a complete accident.  But every time, our relationship was strained and painful to resolve.

Ultimately, our discomfort has always lead us to resolve our problems, but I think it was mostly because we did share the same bedroom and same bathroom for the majority of our lives.  We couldn't escape each other. When it comes to relationships outside of our family, resolving issues becomes increasingly more difficult.  It's much easier to ignore the problem and hope that it will go away.  It's much easier to not invite someone to the party.  It's so much easier to criticize and tear down than to build up and love and help.  

I am guilty of this.

But as James said, "this should not be..."

When we exclude people from our lives we are isolating them from community.  We're leaving them to try and make it on their own.  Worse, we are isolating ourselves from community.  We are not allowing the Holy Spirit to use relationships to mold us into His image.  We are limiting our influence all because it's doesn't hurt as much.

Here's the problem with that, "Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgement" {Proverbs 18:1}.  So when we exclude ourself or someone else from community we put our own desire for comfort ahead of what God's desire is for our life.  

God wants us unified, sharing in love and grace and mercy, with each other and the world around us.  This action alone makes us a city on hill that cannot be hidden.  And it gives our lives saltiness that flavors the world around us with good. In a world that desperately needs good, this action demonstrates, more than anything else, God's great love.

So, my friends, this fighting--these petty arguments--this back biting--"should not be."

But how can we move forward from here?  How can we move past this?

We have to humble ourself. We have to say we're sorry. We have to recognize that there are two sides and whether we realize it or not we are part of the problem. Here's the fun part. If we're part of the problem, we're also part of the solution.  

Look at what Paul wrote in Romans 12:
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live peaceable with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God...Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Let's look specifically at Romans 12:18.  "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all."  In other words, do everything you can to live at peace. Peace is important to God, so important, in fact, that Jesus addressed this issue in the Sermon of the Mount. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" {Matthew 5:9}.  

I love being "right."  I highly value my opinion.  I honestly think that if people would listen to me I could help them. (Egotistical, I know, but just go with it.) But, for myself, I can say that being at peace with God and man is more important to being "right."  I can learn to accept another point of view.  I don't have to agree with it, I don't have to condone it, but I need to hear it and then I need to choose live at peace.  If God Himself lets let's us have the free will to decide what we want to do with our lives, how in this world do we think we--humans--are ever going to control someone else's decisions?  

That's foolishness. 

If you want to be upset because someone thinks you're wrong, then do that, but I just have say it's better to let God do the changing and you do the loving.  That's how you become part of the solution.  That's how you find peace.

Unity is a gift.  It's a gift that we have to work for, it's a gift that we have to sacrifice for, but there is no greater gift that we can give to each other.  

I challenge us. Let's live the life God wants for us and quite isolating each other from community. Let's encourage one another through our words and actions and stop tearing each other down because of opinion. Let's walk in grace and mercy and love and divorce ourselves from all forms divisions. Let's open our arms and our hearts to each other and realize humility is a sacrifice worth paying.  Let's accept that we have different opinions and recognize that God doesn't care about our opinions anyway.  If we will, we will become the city of the hill, the light that cannot be hidden, and the salt of the earth.

My friends, this should be.

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