Don’t miss that Opportunity!

Beloved of Papa,

On Tuesday my reading brought me to I Corinthians. In Chapter One I read,

“Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos,’ and ‘I of Cephas,’ and ‘I of Christ.’ Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he?”

The “no” was loud and emphatic as I read “no divisions among you.” As I read on I was hearing . . . “I am of Calvin,” and “I of Wesley” . . . no divisions. I’m sorry if that hurts, but it is what happened. I know most of you are beyond such things, but all are not yet free.

As I read on, the diagnosis got stronger in Chapter Three,

“ . . . for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not mere men?”

Wow! Fleshly? Jealousy? Strife? Why? For one says, ‘I am of Warren’ and another, ‘I am of Osteen,’ (or any other name expressed as a faction within The Church [including the proud, I follow Christ, as in 1:12!]). This is not milk for babes—yet it is Papa’s loving word to the Saints at Corinth (or Seattle, or Concord, or any other place where such proud distinctions are claimed). Papa had Paul write it as a corrective, which we need to hear and receive today—not to produce guilt or shame (or self-justifying), but for conviction, confession, cleansing, and transformation by the power of the Spirit.

All this reminds me of Ray Stedman’s thoughts in Talking to My Father. In addressing what he calls the “divine strategy” for reaching the world (as seen in our Lord’s prayer recorded in John 17), Stedman says:

“I have resolved that my heart shall be always ready to love every person, without exception, in whom I sense a love for Jesus Christ, the Son of God – regardless of his denominational label or lack of it and despite any theological differences of viewpoint.  I am ready, God in me and helping me, to give myself in love to any Christian, anywhere, whom I may chance to meet and in whom I sense a fellowship of love for Jesus Christ. . . .”

I was particularly convicted by his next paragraph:

“Are you willing to join in that?  Are you ready now to say, in order to reach the world around us, Lord teach me to give up my prejudices, these separations, this withdrawal, these sub-Christian attitudes toward my fellow brethren in Christ and make me willing to love them and to show it for Christ’s sake?”

By His grace He has brought me to a place where I say, “Yes. I am.” But saying it to Him is not always enough! He calls on me to say it and live it toward each specific brother or sister in my life. Sometimes He even prompts me to reach out to some brother or sister I wouldn’t otherwise encounter! If the Spirit has not brought someone like that to your mind as you have read this, perhaps He will do so later today. When He does, reach out in love: Send them a note, phone them, or walk over and give them a holy hug! Since He loves us without limit, we are able to love one another—not just with words, but in authentic acts of love! Don’t miss that opportunity!

Live who you are—a child dearly loved by Papa.

John