Heart Condition

John 17:20-21 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

A Prayer for Unity

When Jesus holds out his wounded hands and beckons to us to follow him, do our hearts struggle to follow his commands?

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Ah, but he also told us to love our enemies and to obey his commands.

He reiterated the second one to his disciples when he told them that people would know they were his followers when they showed love for one another. Do we pray that we might be unified with our brothers and sisters in Christ, or do we, as we go about our daily lives, forget these commands in pursuit of our own ideas, in our eagerness to convert others to our agendas.

When we Christians in the Western world label ourselves Republicans or Democrats, or negatively label others “alt-right” or “liberals,” or decide morality and social justice are mutually exclusive, we go beyond offending our brothers and sisters in Christ – we offend Jesus by choosing to step off his path and hide his light.

In his book Generous Justice* Timothy Keller explains this division among us eloquently:

In Western society, these sets of concerns have often been split off from one another. In fact, each of America’s two main political parties has built its platform on one of these sets of ethical prescriptions to the near exclusion of the other. Conservatism stresses the importance of personal morality, especially the importance of traditional sexual mores and hard work, and feels that liberal charges of racism and social injustice are overblown. On the other hand, liberalism stresses social justice, and considers conservative emphasis on moral virtue to be prudish and psychologically harmful. Each side, of course, thinks the other side is smug and self-righteous.

As Christ’s disciples, shouldn’t we love one another, respect one another, embrace one another and treat each other with dignity in Jesus’ name? Yet to do that, first and foremost, we must offer grace, and approach each other in humbleness.

How? To begin with, open our ears to hear “the other side” because sometimes they make sense.

Because how can we call ourselves followers of Jesus when we continue to:

–  watch TV shows that angrily rant about “the other side”

–  post our own rants, or pass along articles or jokes on social media about “the other side,” particularly if we are not daily praying for our president and congress, whether or not we voted for them

–  justify name calling and “righteous anger” because Jesus became angry with the moneychangers at the temple. If we equate ourselves with Jesus, we commit the sin of arrogance and self-righteousness. None of us deserves to be saved; let’s all remember that he died for our sins. And the last time I looked, he is still God, not us.

–  get angry about our tax dollars going to “those people” when the Bible tells us that “those people” are one of the four groups (widows, orphans, the poor and foreigners) we as God’s children are blessed enough to care for and are summoned by Him to carry their burdens

–  flaunt our lack of personal responsibility when Jesus clearly told us to be responsible is to feed, clothe and shelter the poor, refugees and immigrants (Matthew 25:35-40). This is our Great Commission!

Jesus told us that as peacemakers, we would be blessed; we would be called children of God (Matthew 5:9).  But we can only be peacemakers after we realize we are poor in spirit and we need God, after we mourn for our sins, after we are willing to become gentle with each other, after we hunger and thirst for righteousness in our hearts, after we become merciful with each other, and after our hearts are pure in motivation. (Matthew 5:3-9)

If you are a Christian, instead of wearing the labels of Republican or Democrat (Tea Party, Independent, Libertarian), conservative or liberal, how about wearing the labels of humanitarian, friend, listener, encourager, thinker, responder, peacemaker,…and follower of Jesus.

Since I have come to Christ, I have an undeniable urge to walk a different path than the one of my past. I don’t always succeed, and like the apostle Paul, I am the worst sinner. But because the hole in my heart was filled with Christ’s love, peace and understanding, his compassion and empathy, his forgiveness, grace and mercy, I feel I must do my best to obey him when he exhorts me to love my Christian friend as well as my enemy.

“The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” John 17:22-24

I have a long way to go, but with God’s help, I’m working on it. How about you?

*(©2010, p54-55, Riverhead Group, Penguin Books, NY, New York)

24 comments

  1. nice. vw

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  2. Susan, you quoted my favorite passage in John. “Father, that they might be one even as we are one. I in you and you in me that they might be one in us…” Got has had me praying that He would bring me into the depths of this prayer of Jesus for about four years and about two years ago He flooded me once again in my first love for Him and others after many years of having a cold “conservative” heart. The words of an old hymn seem to fit my heart’s cry since then,

    In Christ there is no east nor west,
    There is no north nor south,
    But one great fellowship of love,
    Throughout the whole wide earth,
    In Jesus Christ there is no east nor west.

    This was the first step for me to find this wonderful unity in the Father and the Son. Since then He has led me into the fellowship of His suffering by bearing the pains and sufferings of others and showing me that REAL love runs toward the pains of others and takes them upon itself. He has been healing me of much of my left brain thinking where it was easy to “study” and philosophize about love without embracing the sufferings and the joys of others as my own. This, my dear sister, is what it really means to be ONE as Jesus is one with the Father and the Father with Him. “I in you and you in me, that they might be one in us…” for the true saints of God are members one of another.

    God bless you as you continue on your journey. Thank you for your comment on my blog. May we encourage one another in the days to come.
    Your brother in the son,
    Michael

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    1. It’s so wonderful when we allow Him to draw us into His heart; it is there we truly understand who He is and His intention and love for us. Until we embrace that, we can’t possibly comprehend His desire for unity.

      Jesus was never about forming new religion, laws or dogma. He came.to unify us into the Father’s family with the help of the Spirit.

      Thank you for your moving insight and testimony, my brother.

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  3. The True Light! · · Reply

    Stay on your path and grow in the things of God, Susan. Your points are well taken here, but you may find that the closest of brothers and sisters are not only like-minded in faith, but in politics and world affairs as well. They want what you want in a number of cases.

    If and when they don’t, you are right…just respect the differences and concentrate on the things of faith where you find common ground!

    Enjoy your day,
    Steve

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    1. Quite true, Steve.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lovely blog post that expresses so well thoughts I’ve had myself on these topics. For some reason this verse has been rumbling repeatedly through my head over the last couple of weeks,

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    1. Micah 6:8
      He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
      And what does the Lord require of you?
      To act justly and to love mercy
      and to walk humbly with your God.

      Somehow I hit post instead of return earlier. This was the verse that has been running through my head constantly lately and it has helped me so much.

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      1. Amen to that, Elaine. And we can’t do it alone. We need the Spirit to give us strength and guide us.
        Thank you so much for giving us this Scripture.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I love your inspiration Sis! You demonstrate in your writings just what real love is, it is an action, something we do for another without consequence of reward to ourselves! You also show the diversity in the Body of Christ that makes us more the Bride of Christ. We all have our talents, our gifts, our ministries (service) given by the Holy Spirit! This is why I love the blogging media today. I have been involved in internet ministry since about 1994 and I have seen the media evolve and change and of all the “forums” available, so far this blogging seems to bring of different gifts and talents together.
    I like you do not care so much for the world’s labels, I don’t even like to be called Reverend though I am an ordained minister. Never have and never will. I have been a servant, a shepherd my whole ministry and like you, I have stumbled, gotten back up, tried again and like Paul says, ever reaching for that prize in Christ which is to be more and more like Him!
    You will find some conflict in my teachings though because like Paul, there are times when I HAVE to point out correction, strongly, but Sis, don’t confuse firmness in the Word with lack of love or the willingness to make peace. I have studied the concept of Agape, Godly love for decades now and like so many things from our Heavenly Father, the world and the enemy of our souls has twisted and warped it to the point where most don’t truly know what love is or what the opposite is. Many think hate is the opposite, but more-so than hate it is selfishness. Selfishness is love of self and thereby lack of love or hate for others. Love is not an emotion, though the act of selflessness brings forth an emotion that can be considered the noun, love.
    Hate is the emotion that comes from not getting a selfish want and desire. It’s amazing that today, so many are wrapped up in self and don’t even realize as long as they are, they will never be able to experience real love!
    Anyway, I could go on and on! I love what I have read so far and will be adding your site to my links page, Blogs Followed and I look forward to reading more!! Until then, God bless you abundantly as you continue to serve each of us AND our Lord and Redeemer!!!!

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    1. Roland, thank you so much for your comments, and for your follow. And I look forward to many conversations to come. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. So well expressed. We need each other as human beings, or we won’t survive.
    Thanks, Susan.
    Elouise

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  7. Beautifully expressed.

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  8. Susan: for 23 years I have contributed to the political chaos as a conservative political hack in our area. I gave that up 2 years ago when I realized there is no such thing as political salvation.

    I also watched as God brought 2 lesbians to our conservative white congregation and I marveled at how the Holy Spirit worked quietly in their lives to bring them closer to His truth of freedom. One woman got saved and the other one rejected the offer of freedom and left. Not only did the woman that stayed start growing, she is one of the best friends I have. Oh Lord: How many of your gifts have I rejected because of political differences?

    Because of her ministry and giftings to our local community, we have changed our approach to those who are different from us.

    Lord you send em, we’ll love em, you fix em!

    Jekyll

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    1. I think we’ve all contributed to the chaos at one time or another. As He continues to work in us and open our eyes a little wider, we begin to see others as He sees them. We are all sculpted from the same loving hands and heart, with the same hopes of redemption. Who are we to close the door based on our faulty judgments? You’re absolutely right – our job is to love our neighbors from whatever neighborhood He sends them. 🙂

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  9. I certainly see why you connected with my “Open Letter to Christians”. A soul connection for sure. I long for the day, and pray it’s soon, that Christ Followers wake up to the full Truth… we are not just saved and waiting for Heaven, but indeed we are saved and drawn to Him to truly live others while His Kingdom and His Will be done … now… as it IS in Heaven.
    Bless you!
    Heather

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    1. Thanks, Heather. So glad you understand and are walking yoked with him and speak his heart and light.

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  10. […] Heart Condition […]

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  11. Perspective Collector · · Reply

    I love your thoughts!

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  12. The one sure sign of qualification in this fold is “woeful sinner” . That and even more we all are, but my joy remains in him and the promise made that all those that are his, he has kept and non will be lost. Thank you Susan for the words of love and encouragement, may the Father bless them to bear good fruits, Amen!

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    1. He does keep His promises; our eyes must be lifted always to Him in all circumstances. I was reminded only today that sometimes the shadows which I think are darkness are only the feathers of His wings protecting me. Amen and Amen!

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