Recently I have been thinking about unity. Jesus talked about it in His last words to His disciples before He went to the cross. It was very important to Him. It was to be a defining factor in His followers. In the Gospel of John we all get meshed together in the “I am in Him”s, “He is in me”s and “I am in you”s in His prayer to His Father.
I can be pretty stubborn in my beliefs. In person I am pretty quiet about voicing them, especially if I am the minority in a group; but in writing and in the safety of myself and people who think like me, I can be unbending.
I have been wondering if I am too unbending. Maybe I need to compromise more. I need to let go of what I believe just a little and change my mind. Maybe I should settle some of the disagreements in my life with a little more grace for the beliefs of others. Maybe they are just as right as me. Maybe all we have to do is meet in the middle.
But then I thought, “Where am I willing to meet? How close to the middle can I go? When it comes to my faith, what really matters to me?”
I remembered a diagram I drew several weeks ago while I was processing some frustration. I simply was having a hard time forgiving some people in my life. Maybe seeing things on paper would help. In one corner I wrote Pharisee. I filled the other corners with addict, sexual sinners, self-centered people and atheists. In the center of the paper I wrote Jesus, I drew a bunch of lines with arrows from the outside of the paper to the inside. We all have different backgrounds when we begin to follow Jesus. Our journey toward Him is going to look a little different than anyone else’s because we come at Him from different directions, different cultures.
As I thought about compromise, I thought my diagram applied very well to my current question. When it comes to faith, I am always willing to meet you in the middle if Jesus is what is in the center. I can compromise anything except Jesus and who He said He was.
Unity always comes in Him. I do not have to try to make my way around the circle on my diagram. My goal is not to meet someone with a different story halfway between their story and mine. My goal is to meet them in the center of our lives – the center Jesus Christ. Anywhere else we meet is going to be disastrous for both our faiths.
The question made me think a bit further. What about all my “unbelieving” friends? Where am I going to meet them? How will I ever bring anyone to Jesus if I cannot take my eyes off Him and compromise with them? Next week I plan to engage that question.
Why can’t I compromise Jesus? What makes me so stubborn about Him? Well, I put a lot of confidence in scripture. In those scriptures, He is recorded as saying He is the only way to God. I figure either Jesus was a truth-teller and is God or He was a liar and I ought not have anything to do with HIm. Believing what scripture said He said about Himself is one reason I cannot compromise His words. But I have not just read about His teachings in scripture, I have experienced them as true in my own life. Giant oxymorons like if “you lose your life, you will find it” are true. I have learned it.
But there is a bigger reason I can no longer change my mind when it comes to Jesus. He has changed me. Completely. He really did take me from a pit (like King David says in those same scriptures). I was sunk pretty deep. I used to live with a lot of pain, and now I do not. I used to be so incredibly hurt. It literally felt like there was a giant twist in my heart. I was scared and alone. I credit Jesus with taking it away.
Now if you read this blog on a regular basis, you could point out I seem to process a lot of pain in my life. True. Even very recently. But compared to what it used to be, it is nearly nothing. When I compare a bad day now with what a bad day was five or ten years ago, it is a .025 on a scale of 1-10. Yeah, I still carry pain with me. Life still hurts because in this world I will have trouble. He told me about it beforehand. But the way I interact with it has changed. I am complete in Him. He is my foundation. My pain does not define me. Jesus does.
Since I cannot compromise Jesus does that mean I have no unbelieving friends? No. Some of my very favorite friends are not believers at all. I enjoy their company. I love them and enjoy them. I trust they love and enjoy me, but I do not find unity with them. I can only find oneness, unity, when the other person is willing to meet me in the center Jesus Christ, where grace and truth collide.
Where do you find unity with those around you? What is the center of your life? The part of your faith you are unwilling to compromise?