“Keep the Unity, Savor Diversity”

#7  KEEP THE UNITY, SAVOR DIVERSITY. Thank God that, like parts of the human body, we’re not all the same. Be open to learn from others, regardless of their age, background, experience, or tenure with our church.a  We make better decisions and grow as people when we consider multiple perspectives.b  Listen with curiosity to others and consider how to use their ideas.c

a  Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. (Ephesians 4: 3-4)

b  How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in harmony! (Psalm 133: 4)

c  Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. (Romans 12: 3-5)

In 1940, George Reavis the Superintendent of the Cincinnati Public Schools wrote a fable called the Animal School.

Once upon a time the animals decided they must do something heroic to meet the problems of a “new world” so they organized a school. They had adopted an activity curriculum consisting of running, climbing, swimming, and flying. To make it easier to administer the curriculum, all the animals took all the subjects.

The duck was excellent in swimming. In fact, better than his instructor. But he made only passing grades in flying and was very poor in running. Since he was slow in running, he had to stay after school and also drop swimming in order to practice running. This was kept up until his webbed feet were badly worn and he was only average in swimming. But average was acceptable in school so nobody worried about that, except the duck.

The rabbit started at the top of the class in running but had a nervous breakdown because of so much makeup work in swimming.

The squirrel was excellent in climbing until he developed frustration in the flying class where his teacher made him start from the ground up instead of the treetop down. He also developed a “charlie horse” from overexertion and then got a C in climbing and D in running.

The eagle was a problem child and was disciplined severely. In the climbing class, he beat all the others to the top of the tree but insisted on using his own way to get there.

There’s much learning for us in this story and this Way of Week. God has purposely placed you in this Church Family. We need you and you need us. When you’re operating in your sweet spot—out of His natural giftedness in you—delight will be yours and God will be greatly pleased and glorified.
 
 
 
 

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“Forgive… Again”

#6.  FORGIVE . . . AGAIN      Just as God forgives us, heal relationships by extending forgiveness with grace and generosity. Forgive everyone everything. Start by praying for those you resent or hate. Ask for every blessing you would want for the one you’re struggling to forgive.  Scriptures: Matthew 6: 13-14; Ephesians 4: 31; Colossians 3: 13
“The Bible connects our duties as saved people with the acts of God and Jesus Christ. The small word ‘as’ often serves as the link. ‘Love one another as I have loved you’ (John 15: 12). ‘Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive’ (Colossians 3: 13).
Robert Roberts says that forgiveness means letting go of anger we have a right to. To do this takes a lot of spiritual muscle, and the job is impossible for people who themselves feel unforgiven. But forgiveness is the soul of our life together. We are forgiven to forgive.”  – Cornelius Plantinga Jr., Beyond Doubt: Faith-Building Devotions on Questions Christians Ask
 
The next time you pray the Lord’s Prayer slow down when you say, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Are you hearing what you are praying? I hope so — for your sake and for ours as a Church Family. Each week, at least; and more like several times a day, I need God’s forgiveness. This is I know. But for me to only ask for forgiveness while not giving it is to pray only the first half of that sentence. I have to forgive those who have hurt me in real or imagined ways if I want to be free and stay free.
This is not easy to do. You need a community who is deeply committed to forgiveness as a natural and necessary way of life. Here at First Pres you have that community. This means that we regularly confess our sins as we regularly forgive one another. We pray for our enemies including those we resent or hate. We learn about forgiveness and seek help if we don’t know how to do it. We talk about and model forgiveness for our children and the children and youth of our congregation. We encourage each other to forgive everyone everything.
I hope this particular Way catches on like the dry wood in your fireplace so that First Presbyterian Church radiates the warmth of love and the freedom of forgiveness.

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