Good friends communicate...
Christ-like friends immerse communication in prayers adoring Holy, Holy, Holy
Triune God, our Dearest Friend.
I guess that's what breaks my heart about a lot of the "communication" we witness among "Christians" today.
Let us beware of spending more time talking about God than we do spending time with God.
So much time is wasted talking about what we think God thinks about various issues.
In my opinion, issues driven religion leads to idolatry.
Like one of the commandments proclaims, "You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affections for any other gods."
(Exodus 20:4-5a, "Today's English Version of The Bible").
Time invested lifting up our limited perceptions chattering about our views of God's thoughts about issues can lead to adoring our ideas about God more than we adore God. Time invested standing on issues reduces the amount of time we spend lifting up prayers of adoration.
Christ-like friends come together across theological perceptions and differences to offer prayers of adoration. Offering prayers of adoration helps us spend less time trying to figure God out. Offering prayers of adoration helps us gaze together upon the beauty of God made known in Jesus.
This reminds me of something Sister Kathleen, a Roman Catholic sister, said when she taught our Doctor of Ministry Class at Wesley Theological Seminary in 2001. She said, "Did you ever notice we tend to look like what we gaze upon the most? When we look at computers and devices, we tend to look at each other the same way."
When we invest more energy gazing at issues than we do gazing into the heart of God, we tend to look at one another through the lenses of our perceptions of each other. The looks on our faces scream "Issues!" The numbing gazes on our faces shout "You're lesser than!" "I know more than you do."
In other words, when we we gaze upon any allegiance less than the One Living Triune God, we tend to get stuck in humanity's unresolved issues. We get trapped in our own unresolved issues too. We feel fragmented, divided, isolated. The sin we claim we are seeking to avoid grows like a tumorous wedge that keeps us from worshipping God with persons who have different opinions than we do.
This brings to mind the passage of scripture recorded in Luke 17:11-19, the healing of the ten lepers. Like Fred Craddock says, "This is a story about ten persons who were healed and one person who was saved." ("Interpretation Commentary on Luke").
The Samaritan who returned to adore our Father God through Jesus opened up the blessings of salvation. The nine who did not stop long enough to adore God revealed in Jesus received physical healing but missed out on the gift of salvation!
Christ-like friends, like Jesus' first followers, come together across differences to go where Jesus leads us to travel. Jesus crossed boundaries to reach "unclean, lesser than" human beings who had been cast aside and marginalized by the religious leaders of their day.
For instance, before Jesus of Nazareth walked the earth, the only places where people saw Gentiles and Jews living together in community were the leper colonies. After Jesus of Nazareth, persons who used to consider one another "unclean" came together to adore God.
Adoring God opens up the blessings of delight and joy God thirsts to bestow upon everyone.
Indeed, prayerfully adoring God sets us free to live in holy communion. Prayerfully adoring God sets us free to become instruments of beloved community.
When we let go of theological arguments and positions and get down on our knees to gaze into the eyes and heart of Jesus, we begin to see ourselves and one another the ways God sees us.
Richard Foster puts it like this, "Prayer is the human response to the perpetual outpouring of love by which God lays siege to every soul. When our reply to God is most direct of all, it is called adoration. Adoration is the spontaneous yearning of the heart to worship, honor, magnify, and bless God. In the prayer of adoration we love God for himself."
("Prayer: Finding Our Heart's True Home," Richard Foster).
When we come together across differences to adore God, we become more likely to love each other for the persons God creates us to be. Through prayer, we go even further than that. We cheer each other on to become the persons God creates us to be. We even let go of our preconceived visions of what each other will look like and what each other will believe.
When we gaze into the heart of God, we let go of agendas designed to use one another to achieve our own purposes.
When we love God and each other with no hidden purposes, we become more likely to come together across labels. We become more open to forming prayer teams across diversity with the hope your differences will help me see persons I tend to treat as invisible. My differences will help you see persons you tend to treat as invisible.
Together we reach more persons for Christ!
To bring it home, adoring God looks like gazing and really seeing persons as sisters and brothers. Adoring God looks like seeking out persons who have been declared unclean, lesser than, not good enough and treating them like they're already healed. (Re-read Luke 17:11-19. Remember John 3:16-17 and John 4:1-30)...
Issues do not define and control our relationships. Jesus the Savior and Healer of all does!
Imagine what the world will look like when followers of Jesus spend more time gazing into the heart of God and less time arguing about ideas.
Spending more and more time adoring God together will help us look more like the Triune God: One in three, three in One. Beloved communion leads to beloved community!
(Picture of Mrs. Dawn Sparks Fairley, Helen Milleson, Bishop Leonard Fairley, and me adoring God on High Rock Lake June 25, 2022)