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Super Sunday

Hello blogosphere!  It’s been a while.  Well by now, most of you know what this coming Sunday is.  If you guessed Super Bowl Sunday, you’d be right.  Typically, I am always pretty hyped up about the Super Bowl, but not this year.  For the first time in a long time, I have no significant interest in the big game.  For me, there is no favorite team, no favorite player, no hometown hero this year that really excites me, that inspires me to passionately paint my face, don an expensive jersey, and cheer til I’m horse.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’ll still watch the game.  I mean, come on, it’s still football.  But this year, I’ll be less of a die-hard fan and more of a casual observer.  However, even without the emotional investment, Super Sunday will still be super for me, but for an entirely different reason.  On that day, I will have the privilege of worshipping my Lord and Savior with people who, in a very real way, are my family.  That is a real blessing.

 

Look around you.  We live in a society that seems to be more divided than ever before.  Sure, there have been divisions since the dawn of time.  But it seems to me that the polarization that we see now has been intensified to a whole new level.  If you don’t believe me, just go right now to your Facebook page (if you have one) and scroll through the various posts.  I’m willing to bet that it won’t be long until you see an inflammatory or offensive post, or an angry response to an article that is posted.  Whatever the issue might be, whether it is political, racial, sports related, or another issue, you’ll see the divide up close and personal, and you’ll see it very quickly.  Quite frankly, people are angry, and often times that anger is misplaced and leads to vitriolic, mean-spirited, hate-filled and ungodly rhetoric.  Look no further than our government leaders in Washington to get a great example of this.    

 

So what happens when those divisions and anger spill over into the church?  Yes, that can and does happen in our churches (shocking, I know J).  The truth of the matter is that because our churches are filled with imperfect people, those people will often respond to situations within the body in imperfect ways.  When people don’t get their way, or they simply disagree with you, sometimes you see true natures revealed.  It is certainly disappointing and disheartening, and I can even understand why some people view the church with skepticism and animosity, but we must push through.  Forsaking the body and failing to be a part of a Bible-teaching church is not an option, as the writer of Hebrews clearly states when he wrote:

 

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…” (Hebrews 10:25, NIV)

 

So, the question simply becomes “then what do we do?”  Well, I think the apostle Paul addresses it pretty clearly in Romans 12.

 

“Live in harmony with one another.  Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.  Do not be conceited.  Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:16-18, NIV)

 

Pretty straight forward, isn’t it?  Paul was never one to really pull any punches.  One word that sticks out to me in this passage is harmony. Harmony, as you probably know, is a musical concept.  Essentially, it is the combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce chords having a pleasing effect.  Simply put, harmony happens when someone sings or plays different notes that are different than the main portion (melody).  The result is music that is beautiful to the ears.  Now you are probably wondering how this applies spiritually.  Well, I will tell you.  Often times, we think of harmony in a spiritual context as everyone thinking and acting in the same way.  That’s a little off.  Understand that harmony is not the same thing as uniformity.  Harmony, in a church application, is working together and producing something beautiful, even though there might be differences of opinions.  In this passage, Paul is encouraging the church in Rome to live in harmony by working through our differences in order to produce God-centered worship.  In order to do that, we have to humble ourselves, put down our pride, and work on being people of peace.  That is much easier said than done, because generally speaking, we all have pride issues.  But if we want to honor God, then there is never a substitute for doing the right thing.  It might be difficult, but it is always worth it. 

 

I will confess something to you right now.  Pastors get disappointed in people too.  I think sometimes people think that pastors just keep on going, unfazed by the discord, dissension, and disrespect around them.  While that might be true for some, I can tell you that is certainly not the case for me.  I get disappointed when people I shepherd and guide behave in ungodly ways, but as my assistant (who is much wiser than she gives herself credit for) just reminded me, we have got to seek to understand where people are and where they’re coming from.  We have got to stop drawing our lines in the sand and saying “it’s my way or no way”.  Let’s stop taking our toys and running home when things don’t go the way that we think they should.  Let’s stop hurting one another.  Instead, let us seek to live in harmony, both in our churches and outside them.  Let’s be people who always do what is right.  Let’s be people of peace, recognizing our differences and working together anyway for the good of the gospel.  Let’s turn down the vitriol and turn up the love.

 

So, when you attend church this Sunday, will it be super Sunday for you, or will it be business as usual?  The choice is yours.  I’m praying you choose harmony and peace.  And by the way, enjoy the game!

 

I love you,

 

J.P.