I was reading through Romans 14 and 15 this morning, and was really struck by how it read to me today. Many of the scriptures are underlined, so I am confident I’ve read them before, but today the Spirit tugged at my heart in a very new way.
This past week I had the opportunity to fly to Vegas with my husband, who was on a business trip, and enjoyed a couple of days by the pool. One of those leisurely afternoons, I was blessed to meet a lovely couple from Ohio. Our conversation cycled over many topics, but quite possibly my favorite element was that woven into the entire encounter were references to spirituality, Jesus, religion and the like. The husband, having been raised Jewish, and his bride, and myself, while most certainly holding onto different opinions about such things, were all graciously aware of, and sensitive to, finding common ground instead of pushing personal agenda.
In Romans, Paul writes about the freedom we have as believers to adhere to those boundaries and standards we feel convicted to, while not holding others to the same expectations. He also, however, admonishes us not to cause another believer to stumble, and to not bicker over the non-salvation issues. Who Jesus is trumps any belief about what meat we can eat, how to prepare food, what to wear, tattoos, etc. Who Jesus is should also compel us to be sensitive and gentle to those who may perhaps struggle with, or could be offended by, those things which we are free in Christ to do.
I honestly feel given the time and season we are in, that so very many of our societal struggles are rooted in our strong desire to push personal beliefs above a passion for living in peace. Liberals rail at Christians for holding to a certain set of values while screaming they are “open minded” (only to their own beliefs, however), while Christians disregard love and plow people over in their self-righteous need to convert the “sinners,” all the while missing the very essence of why we are all here in the first place.
the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.“the study will assess the relationship between unemployment and political attitudes”synonyms: connection, relation, association, link, correlation, correspondence, parallel, alliance, bond, interrelation, interconnection.
We are all in need of relationship; it’s what we are designed for. Ironically, in strongly disagreeing with the how, to create relationship, we endlessly silence what it means in the first place.
There is no way to ever find peace if we do not first know ourselves enough, to honor others in the manner in which they, view themselves. With only a self-focused view of life, we find ourselves circling endlessly through argument, anger, disillusionment and a damaged perspective of our own intrinsic value. If we continue to set our sights only on that whichs we personally find valuable, disregarding the perspective of others, there can never be authentic connection, which in turn suppresses our capacity to feel fulfilled in our pursuit of purpose. Essentially, when we live from a position of self-first, we never find self-fulfillment because such self-actualization actually requires relationship, which can only be fully manifested when we consider others first.
God’s design is brilliant.
So I ask you today, what beliefs are you holding onto that are preventing you from walking in your greatest capacity and fulfillment? Is it unrealistic expectations from your kids? Unmet needs from your spouse? Disillusionment in your church or politics? Wherever you experience personal brokenness, you will often find it rooted in how you have connected with that area relationally.
What can you let go of today? In what way have you been seeking to be heard instead of choosing to listen? I believe that when we begin to allow ourselves to truly pursue understanding, we will find within ourselves all we were looking for in the first place. Or, at least begin down the right path…