‘Day One’ Blog

what IS the MAIN thing

photo by Jean Philippe Delberghe – courtesy of Unsplash

Unity within the body of Christ is fragile in the best of times. The tensions of 2020 have taken their toll on that unity in ways I have not personally experienced before. I’ve heard a few Christians lately talk about keeping the main thing the main thing. In the growing number of conversations (more like confrontations) surrounding controversial hot-buttons, I am feeling the need to know for certain what the main thing even is. The phrase reminds me of something oft-quoted by my husband—

In essentials unity,
in non-essentials liberty,
in all things charity.

German Lutheran theologian, Rupertus Meldenius

To keep the main thing the main thing, I have to know what is essential as a Christ-one. What are the indispensable elements without which we cannot function as the body of Christ? What are those things that bind every follower of Jesus to every other follower of Jesus? Do you know? Do you know for certain? Until you and I know, we cannot begin to understand what is non-essential— what falls into the sphere that would call for liberty.

You’re about to read my list-in-progress. This will be potentially the most controversial part of this post. But we have to start here or we’re going to keep getting stuck and we’re going to remain divided.

What is essential? What is the main thing?

1. Christ-ones are to love God with all their
heart, mind, soul, and strength,
(Duet. 6:5; Duet. 10:12; Mark 12:30).
2. We are to do for others what
we wish they would do for us,
(Matt. 7:12).
3. We are to consider others
as better than ourselves,
(Phil. 2:3-8).
4. We are to love others
as we are loved by Jesus,
(John 13:34).
5. We are to be witnesses for Jesus
to the ends of the earth,
(Isaiah 52:6-8; Acts 1:6-8).

These are commands. They apply to all who call Jesus Lord. Our demographic is the whole of humanity— friend, and enemy alike, (Matt. 5:43-48). A person should not be able to tell whether someone is my friend or enemy based on the way I love them. A person should be able to see Christians from a mile away because of how we love one another within the body. After all, Christ-ones are bound together, each of us expected to make our unique, indispensable contribution to the health of the body, (1 Cor. 12:12-26).

I would venture to say that most of us are feeling the crippling effects of disunity within the body of Christ. I know the world sees it– finding us pitted against one another just like they are. So what do we do about this? How do you and I fight to restore and then protect unity in the body?

If I have even one relationship that is suffering because of a difference of opinion concerning politics or race or any other hot-topic, I know I have a job to do. First I MUST seek the counsel of the most high God. Then I have to make the call and make the date to meet and talk and LISTEN. I must pursue unity so far as I am able, (Rom. 12:18). I must love even and especially if differences remain between us. I must not let those differences, however passionately held, drive a wedge between me and my brother or sister. I must pursue unity and be willing to maintain it, (Ephesians 4:2-4). This will cost me time and perhaps a smidge of dignity. It will require the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit. It’s worth it. It’s critical. And it’s at the heart of what deeply matters to our Lord, (John 17:9-23).


How wonderful, how beautiful,
    when brothers and sisters get along!
It’s like costly anointing oil
    flowing down head and beard,
Flowing down Aaron’s beard,
    flowing down the collar of his priestly robes.
It’s like the dew on Mount Hermon
    flowing down the slopes of Zion.
Yes, that’s where God commands the blessing,
    ordains eternal life.

Psalm 133: 1-3 (The Message)

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Cease-Fire & Pray

What does the need to pray earnestly, and the growing disunity among followers of Jesus have in common? For me, these two things have merged in an unusual way. The visual I have is of two Christians holding opposite views about a volatile current event, kneeling side by side, and beseeching God for His will to be accomplished on the matter. No hedged prayer hoping God will enlighten the other person as if that is what’s necessary to accomplish His divine will— just two Christ-ones with everything essential in common, asking God to come and do what He deems right to do.

So, I’m asking myself who I know personally, who clearly holds an opposing view to the one I hold about any of the following issues, (not an exclusive list):

  • about politics and the coming election
  • about the State and Federal mandates regarding COVID
  • about mask-wearing
  • about Church indoors or outdoors
  • about the State and Federal response
    to riots and protests
  • about the subject of racism
  • about the way the police engage
    with our black community

I have Christian brothers and sisters who think differently than I do about most of the list above. I’m guessing you do too. What I intend to do is to invite a person on the other side of a current-event-fence and ask if they would meet with me, in the spirit of unity, and cry out to our God— together— side by side— foregoing our limited lenses and linking arms before the only wise God. One single item would make up our agenda: YOUR WILL BE DONE. The grounds rules— to acknowledge our differing views but not to jump into a discussion about them AT ALL.

I’ll keep you posted about how this goes. And if you want to jump in the pool too, please let me know how God meets you and your partner in prayer. Here’s to resisting the plethora of invitations to Christians to hate one other. Here’s to purposing NOT to allow our opinions to pit us against one another. Here’s to resisting the devil and NOT embracing his horrible, insidious attempts to divide us.

Perhaps in doing this, we might learn again the art of lovingly addressing our differences without losing the bonds of fellowship. Let’s cease-fire and pray!


I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord,
urge you to walk in a manner worthy
of the calling to which you have been called, 
with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
bearing with one another in love, 
eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit
in the bond of peace.

Ephesians 4:1-3

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I’d Like To Stop Being Part Of The Problem | reflections on racism

photo: Aaron Blanco Tejador

I think I’m still part of the problem of keeping racism alive. My heart aches for the plight of black men and women in our nation. My heart grieves for the pervasiveness of racism that still lives. But I’m certain I’m still contributing to it and I don’t want to anymore. Every tumultuous  uprising can be a forum for personal reform (which is how authentic broad-based reform comes to pass) so I’m asking God, “Please reform me.”

I’m in love with the diversity of the color of people’s skin. I’m in love with the diversity of people’s unique cultures. I’m in love with the nuances that come with that diversity. Life would be lifeless without the richness of relationship that crosses race, skin color, and culture. As best I know, there is nothing in my heart that would cause me to assign value based on any of those diversities.

However, I’m coming to terms with this, that while I’m not a racist, I am likely still contributing to keeping racism alive. Honestly, that knocks the air of out of me. I want to try to give language to some of what I’m discovering. The reflections that follow have each become meaningful in helping me see more clearly how an anti-racist white woman can contribute to racism.


“I’m colorblind.”

That’s a phrase I have permanently retired. Bottom line: it’s not true and was a lazy way of trying to say that I’m not racist. In reality, I am not colorblind at all. There can’t be space for lazy language when people have suffered and continue to suffer unjustly because of their skin color. I thank my black friend who asked me if I would not use that phrase anymore. Some things are VERY simple to change.

“Say what you see.”

I watched a compelling exchange between an anti-racist white man and a black man. The white man was asking sincerely what he should do during this upheaval that would be helpful. The black man asked him to “say what you see.” That’s something I can do. When I see an injustice taking place, I can say what I see. I can call it out. I might not have the language or education I’d like to have, but when I witness an act of racism, at the very least I can call it out for the vile thing it is. That does not mean I have to seep into the vat of hate speech and become part of the racial polarization of our nation. It means I take responsibility for what’s in front of me. I do my part to call out injustice.

White privilege is real.

I will never once in my life have to face what my black brothers and sisters face daily. Never. As I have listened to the experiences of black people in America today, I see more clearly that I enjoy luxuries and a sense of safety for no reason other than for the color of my skin. For me to argue otherwise is simply to bury my head and refuse to see what’s in front of me. I want this reality to inform my responses to all things racial.

An anti-racist white woman can promote racism.

I cannot escape this. There are many facets of life where through ignorance I can contribute to the neglect of another human being. Neglect is damaging. Neglect a person and you impact all persons connected to them. Provide for an individual and you ultimately help everyone in their sphere. It’s one thing to be ignorant if there is no source of information to inform oneself. But there is too much valuable information available during these months of racial unrest for me to stay ignorant. I’m already horribly late to the party. There will be no excuse for me to remain part of the problem. The Lord has practically knocked me over the head, “Get an education already, and stop adding to the problem through your ignorance.”

Ignorance promotes neglect.

As I retrain my brain to see and respond to racism differently, that is a phrase I will have to keep reciting to myself. Through my negligence (the product of my ignorance) I have directly contributed to the innumerable unjust acts perpetrated against black people. At a minimum, I am guilty of the sin of omission. That’s a grievous sin. My silence becomes an unjust act of its own. As a follower of Jesus Christ, it means I’m guilty of woefully misrepresenting Jesus and His nature. It requires that I repent before Him, before my black brothers and sisters, and before black people everywhere. So I do that. I repent. I turn from my wrong behavior and purpose to emulate the life of my Savior, who loved unconditionally, sacrificially, and without prejudice.


Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice
will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding
will be lifted from our fear drenched communities,
and in some not too distant tomorrow
the radiant stars of love and brotherhood
will shine over our great nation
with all their scintillating beauty.

Martin Luther King, Jr | Letter From A Birmingham Jail

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The Trouble With Forgiveness

photo by Tommy Coomes (Tbillisi, Georgia | 2014)

For we do not wrestle
against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers,

against the authorities,
against the cosmic powers
over this present darkness,
against the spiritual forces of evil
in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)


I can’t imagine there is one of us exempt from invitations to succumb to our PROFOUND fatigue from COVID-life and the pervasive national civil unrest. Let’s guard our hearts against the mounting temptation to engage in peripheral ‘hot-spot’ conversations. They end up dividing Christians when unity is of paramount importance.

Unforgiveness can root before we know it, and then we are essentially off the grid-of-effectiveness for the Kingdom of God. The song below reminds me of my DEEP need to cry out to God for mercy. May each of us, especially now, keep short accounts with the Lord and with one another, and may compassion ABOUND!


Peace in the Storm,
Anne

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Three Rings of Peace ~

COVID19 hit and the Lord ignited my heart concerning PEACE. It’s as indispensable to the inner-person as air is to the body. What is this intangible? Where do I get it? Can I lose it once I find it? Are there a variety of sources for it or just one? How dangerous are the counterfeits? Can I live without it… because it doesn’t seem like I can? It sure isn’t easy to get my hands on it, or hang onto it once I do.

Never in my lifetime has PEACE been so sought after or so elusive (depending on where you’re looking for it). As I Christ follower, I believe unreservedly that PEACE is found in a single being; that God alone is the source of PEACE and is Himself PEACE, (Ephesians 2:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:16). As one of His followers, you ought to recognize it in me and be able to get it from me.


This is what I’m coming to discover about PEACE (however rudimentarily). It’s set itself up in my mind in the form of three concentric rings.

  • INNER RING: the PEACE of God in me

God gave me His PEACE when I became a follower of Jesus Christ, (John 14:27; 16:33). It’s one of many gifts He gives to His children. It’s a deposit from Him that I can either draw upon or not, but it’s there for me and there is no end to the supply of it. I’ve been reminded anew that PEACE is not the absence of difficulty but a gift that comes to bear in the midst of hardship and acts as a steadying agent, (Philippians 4:7). It is used to keep me upright when a storm would topple me. It bears clarifying: this is God’s PEACE in me.

  • SECOND RING: PEACE, the fruit of the Spirit on me

PEACE is also a fruit of the Spirit of God, (Galatians 5:22-23). I’m meant to bear it just like a fruit tree would bear fruit. I’m actually meant to have branches laden with it if indeed God is truly LORD of my life (John 15:5,8). This is not ornamental fruit. It supposed to do what fruit does: feed and nourish hungry people. That means you. If you are in need; if you are hungry for PEACE, you are supposed to be able to come to me and find it in abundance. It is God’s PEACE (produced by God the Spirit). Not incidentally, this is also the fruit that should come to bear when I’m doing my best to be at peace with others, (Mark 9:50; Romans 12:18; 2 Cor. 13:11; 1 Timothy 2:2; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 3:11; 2 Peter 3:14).

  • OUTER RING: the gospel of PEACE from me

In the grand scheme, I am also called to be a peacemaker, (Matthew 5:9). I am at PEACE with God through faith in Christ, wearing His gospel of PEACE like shoes on my feet that go wherever I go, (Ephesians 6:15). I am never more like His child than when I am an agent of the gospel of PEACE, proclaiming the VERY good news that PEACE with God is possible for anyone who would put their trust in Him. I am God’s emissary, charged, and equipped to be a peacemaker.


PEACE… IN me and ON me and FROM me. This is meant to be one of the hallmarks of my life. I’m grateful to the Lord for inviting me to sit awhile under this lovely umbrella of the PEACE of God. He offers PEACE. So does the world. Jesus is keen that I understand there is no comparison whatsoever, (John 14:27). Only His PEACE anchors the soul (Hebrews 6:19), steadying it regardless of how tumultuous and uncertain life becomes.

Now may the Lord of peace Himself
give you peace at all times in every way.
The Lord be with you all.
2 Thessalonians 3:16


A very special thanks to Stacy DeWitt,
Michele Telfer, and Dr. Laura Cavarretta
for their invaluable partnership
in Conversations About Peace .
It was a key component
the Lord used to solidify these thoughts.

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