First Things @ First

Pastoral Perspectives,

I came across a great question that helped put life into perspective, hopefully for more than a few hours. The question--"If you listed everything that upset you during the past week, what would be the common denominator in the majority of circumstances?"

Have you ever thought about that? More importantly have you taken the time to do a little personal inventory? I think if we would, most likely the source would not be structural or mechanical but personal. Most likely it would be people centered. And most of the time, we are 'the people' in the center.

As someone observed, the world would be a great place to be if it wasn't for the people. While many may have thought that at some point in life, that is not true because God created us in His image with the need for relationship. And that includes interaction with one another.

Yes, there are those times when the closer we get the more we potentially rub each other the wrong way. However, that can help us identify how difficult we can be, at times. It also helps us understand how much we need the supernatural presence of God at work in our lives to create an environment that is mutually fulfilling and satisfying.

Some won't remember the question that was widely reported in the news during the L.A. riots back in 1992 by Rodney King. In case you have forgotten or were not around at that time, Rodney King was beaten by four arresting police officers. All four were later acquitted in court. In response, many took to the streets in protest. The situation soon turned to an all-out riot that lasted six days. Before it was over, 63 people were dead, 2,383 people were injured, with more than 12,000 arrests had been made. It was a difficult time in the state of California and for the nation of America,

The question that King was credited with was--"Can't we all just get along?"

And the answer consistently throughout history appears to be 'NO'. At least for any length of time, at least from the flawed position of 'the natural man' . (That is how the Apostle Paul describes those who have not the love of God abiding in their heart, nor the Holy Spirit filling them. 1 Cor. 2)

One of the greatest sources of conflict that we are all too familiar with begins with the seed of selfishness that says, (in some way or another) -- 'I want my own way.' And all anyone needs for conflict to flare is two different people who 'want their own way' to work or serve together.

Billy Graham makes the statement in his book, 'The Journey' that our deepest problem is within ourselves--within our own hearts and minds--and until we confront those things and seek God's help to change us, we'll never completely solve them."

While we are attempting to 'fix' everyone else or 'fix' the situation that is not working for us, what is really at work is that 'we want our own way'. And believers, even believers who attend church often are not immune from such a prideful position that has a way of poisoning relationships. Satan, the master manipulator will do anything and use anyone to divide relationships and destroy our witness.

Knowing all that, and because we've experienced that on some level in life, what it the solution?

God provides the solution through His own Son. The word of God says in Romans 5:8--"but God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us." The solution for every conflict that we've faced or ever will in this life is the love of God being demonstrated. Not the kind of 'love' the world system has twisted for its own selfish purpose but the love that is selfless, sacrificial and willing to serve others. This love is deeper than friendship (gr. 'phileo') and more devoted than love for family (gr. 'storge'). God's love (gr. agape) is extended to those who do not deserve it and may not even desire it. It is a demonstration of the will on our part that is first surrendered to the Lordship of Christ and secondly serves others out of the overflow of His inflow in our life. This kind of love deliberately determines to put the interests of others ahead of our own consistently. Some may ask--"won't you be taken advantage of?" OR "won't you get hurt?" And the answer to both is 'YES'. And yet love, (gr.'agape) keeps no record of wrongs.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 That's why and how 'love never fails'.

And as the love of God is demonstrated in the believer through the oversight of the presence of the Holy Spirit, there may still be times when we don't get along. However, that only serves to remind us that we need to be more conformed to the image of His Son who demonstrated His love toward us while we were sinners. When His character is on display in us, our conduct with people will reflect His far more consistently.

So, if you happen to have list of things that people have done to upset you, might be good to filter them through His love. I'm certain the list will diminish, if not disappear altogether.

"For God so loved ....that He gave..."

May the Lord bless each of us with that level of love today!

Pstr K

Hebrews 10:35-36