Wednesday, July 27, 2011

unity

Do you ever have one of those days where you just don't feel like yourself? Where you are frustrated with, well, everything? Where daily routines seem like enormous tasks, and you are just overcome by the temptation to be lazy and allow the enemy to steal your joy?

Today is one of those days for me. Somehow, I have allowed myself to have a little pity party and forget the amazing promises and blessings given to me by my Lord through His word and His track record. I think about the past few days and wonder how this happened, or how I let it happen. I think that sometimes as Christians, we buy into the lie that since we are in Christ, we are no longer going to have any problems. Life should be easy. Or at least everything should be enjoyable. But that is not true. Sometimes life is hard. Not everything is enjoyable.

Being a somewhat independent person, I pride myself on when I can do things without asking for help from anyone else. I don't want anyone to think I am incompetent or that I am too young or green to know what I am doing. But the thing is, we all need help sometimes. And no matter how old we are, we don't know everything. There is always an opportunity to learn from someone with more experience, and there is also opportunity to teach someone who is in the same situation you found yourself in years (or maybe even weeks) ago.

When I find myself frustrated and overwhelmed, I am often tempted (and go ahead and give in) to feel weak. The word weak is a four-letter word in our American culture. We pride ourselves on being strong, pick yourself up by the bootstraps kind of people. Unfortunately, this structure is completely unbiblical. Over and over again, Jesus challenged and implored his disciples and followers to be one. He said to them, "The world will know you are mine by your love for one another." [John 13:34-35] Wow. If it were something that was easy to do, Jesus would not have commanded us to do it. To love your neighbor as yourself is the second commandment. When we love someone as we love ourselves, we better spend a whole lot of time thinking about them and doting on them, because we are pretty self-centered. At least I am.

This week, our mission has been in the midst of a conference about unity. The title is something about working cross-culturally. I must admit, when I first read that and realized it would be the driving theme for four days, I was less than thrilled. Four days talking about different cultures and how we are supposed to get along? Really? But I have to tell you that these sessions have been quite helpful and insightful. Coming here to Mexico was an obvious culture and paradigm shift. But there are culture and paradigm shifts when moving to the next county or state. I found that in working within my school and in this mission, there are many cultures represented. There is the missionary/missionary kid culture, private school/Christian education culture, and the conservative vs. liberal culture. Not to mention people from various regions of the United States (and we all know how I love the South), Ireland, Colombia, England; there are people who speak English, Spanish, Spanglish-- I could go on. And then there is the fact that the majority of my colleagues could be my parents (or even grandparents).

When I look at all of these differences, I am so tempted to just muddle through and expect the least out of my experiences because there are "too many differences." And that is exactly what the enemy wants me to do. But the Lord has given me a higher calling. During a session, someone pointed out today that in the early church, Hebrews, Greeks, and Gentiles all had to work together, so why shouldn't we? And the thing is, we are called to work together and show the world that Jesus Christ is real and worthy of all praise. But we can't do that if we are so prideful that we can't see past our own faults and misgivings.

In the past couple days (and really through the past year being here) the Lord has shown me that I have a conception about how things should be done, and my conception is what I think is right. But there are myriad ways of doing things, and while some may be efficient vs. inefficient, enjoyable vs. monotonous, or well-liked vs. hated, I can still learn from others and take from their experiences. The enemy would love for me to think that because my background is distinct from that of others and that my life experience is not much compared to others, I am inadequate. Inadequate I am not. Weak and in need of a Savior to hold and redeem me each minute of each day, yes. But inadequate I am not. Every single thing that I have gone through and witnessed in my life up to this point has a purpose. And that, my friends, is something worth celebrating and using for the furthering of His kingdom.

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