"Finally, brothers and sister, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you"
(2 Corinthians 13:11).
Human tragedy has a way of calling out to the sense of goodwill that God has created each of us with. September 11, 2011 was a day that changed America as the nation saw the face of evil and the devastation that followed. What also followed was the overwhelming outpouring of love, supplies, volunteer hours, and prayers from across the country. People responded to the needs of another. Differences in political ideologies, religious preferences, the color of skin, and economic classes paled in comparison to the reality of heart's breaking, a nation hurting, and the need to know that someone cared. Since that day there have been further glimpses of goodwill. Hurricanes, tsunamis, terrorist attacks, and the like have provided opportunities to come alongside one another.
We are called to one another. More than in times of tragedy, we are called to be there, to build up, and to belong to one another on a basis that surpasses the circumstantial. There are times to acknowledge the differences we have and to deal with them. Paul stresses that we are to rejoice! There is so much time taken for useless debate, futile argument, and senseless criticism, cynicism, and sarcasm. Paul reminds his readers that each of us have fallen short yet have been redeemed by the restoring love of Jesus. We should seek to do the same. Our aim should be to restore, to comfort, and to encourage. Though it is so easy to major on the negatives within relationships, there is no restorative value, no revelation of God's love, no comfort or confidence in partnership. There is no rejoicing in that.
Paul calls us to agree with one another. No, this is not suggesting that we compromise, water-down, or accept anything less than the standard that God has called us all to. We are going to disagree. In the scheme of God's master plan, however, we must ask ourselves how important some of the things we disagree about really are? Beyond that, there's a way to disagree while still maintaining an attitude of love, encouragement, and unity. In our conversations, our motivation, especially with those that believe in Jesus, should be to allow our words, actions, and attitudes be guided by the agreement we have that the love of Jesus is the greatest catalyst for change we will ever encounter.
In driving, the student is taught from the very beginning that where ever you focus your eyes is where you will steer the vehicle. If you look to the right, it is natural that you will pull to the right, leading your car in that direction. To limit the danger of driving, you stay focused on what it is ahead and most important. Don't get distracted by focusing on the negatives, the differences, and the conflicts within relationship. Ask God to give you wisdom when confrontation is unavoidable. But, ask Him to guide you to aim for restoration, comfort, encouragement, and love. Remember to rejoice in the Lord with everything. Don't wait for tragedy to point out the call that God has placed upon your life to love other people. Agree that the love of Jesus overwhelms the power of all that try to divide. Agree that it is His love that serves as the best argument that will ever be given. When you remember, live out that love in the calling to love one another.