Driving in Unity

These past eight months have been so full of travel and interestingly enough, most of them involved a lot of driving on busy highways and roads.

I often find myself alone in my passion for multi-lane highways that wrap around concrete jungles.  And the more I stay true to this unique passion; I find more of my true authentic self.

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So why do I like them? You ask.

It’s simple really. Everyone is headed in the same direction.

The vehicles are all unique, various makes and models, but they are travelling in the same direction.  Notice I didn’t say destination? From time-to-time, vehicles make take their exits but then others join us as they merge from one of many on-ramps, joining the masses, all of us on our merry way…in the same direction.

That my friends, is called UNITY- “The state of being united or joined as a whole”.

We are united by going in the same direction and yet staying uniquely individual, traveling in our own make and model.

The Problem?  I find that as we travel on a highway in a united fashion, some travelers become weary and impatient and they begin to grumble.  They don’t like the “PACE”.  Perhaps they don’t like the masses and would prefer a country road that would take them to the same destination faster, without all the extra traffic.  Some get annoyed when someone else wants to join the journey and merge into the mass of travelers.  They don’t like to create “SPACE”.  Perhaps they don’t like the fact that each vehicle is unique, and the comparison of “who has the better vehicle” gets under their skin.  They like to “COMPARE”.   

I remember on one recent road trip as I was merging onto the highway, I almost got clipped by the truck that was in the lane I was trying to merge into.  The driver didn’t have room to move over to make room for me so I needed to let them pass before I could merge safely, at which point I realized I was holding my breath out of fear the whole time!!

Whatever the case, everyone is forced to go forward in UNITY (road rules).  But are they really experiencing UNITY if all they want to do is get to their destination and “get rid of / ignore” those who aren’t like them, or choose to take a different highway to decrease the number of others on the road so they can simply get to where they are going faster?  And are they really driving forward in UNITY if they demand that “it is their way or the highway”? (Pun intended).

Then it happened…

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

This visual got me thinking of the Church (shocker).  There are so many people who say they want UNITY.  Although, they may be genuine, don’t seem to know how to live it out.  There are some who want it, but only for the sake of their public image (aka: being a ‘good’ Christian).  There are some who want UNITY because they have embraced it as heart of Christ’s ministry to His people.  And there are some who could care less, and they do.

I don’t know who you are or how you define unity, but as Believers, we are all headed in the same direction…all on a journey of following Jesus and ultimately headed for a destination called heaven.  God made a way for us by sending His Son, Jesus ahead of us to the Cross on our behalf.  That secures our identity and our destination of Heaven.  He is the Way, the Truth, and the life.  No one can get to the Father but through Him.  Do you believe that?  Then you are on a journey of living the abundant life and on your way to Heaven.  It doesn’t matter how long or short you have been on your journey. The question is, do you believe in Jesus?

I think what seems to be trapping so many people within our church communities is in-fighting and as a result, they take their own version of “road rage” to their social media sites.  If that describes you, I encourage you to consider how you are representing Jesus in the spaces and places you go.  This is not an argument to support or deny what Jesus says or does. It’s simply a reminder that there are some who are meant to be on this “highway” and are waiting on the on-ramp.  They want to find a place of hope and rescue and to travel a better road, not the road where they experience what the world is giving them.

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I’m not saying, “go to church (the Building) and you will find Jesus”.  What I am saying is that “we as the Church” (who we are) need to do a better job of making room for those who desire to join us on the journey and to help them experience more unity as we travel this road together.  Whether you are on a highway, a bi-way, a country road or trail and have a relationship with Jesus, then you have the responsibility to share that with others and encourage them to join you from the on-ramp and not discourage them to get out of the way or to take an exit.

What a privilege, to leave our church buildings, to spend the rest of our week building relationships with those who are not yet on the highway, who feel they are on the outside and give them the gift of inclusion.

On this road trip of life, I have discovered that the destroyers of unity are PACE, SPACE, and COMPARISON.  We have all been guilty of those from time to time.

Let’s make today different…

Check your pace, make space, and don’t compare…Live your story!!

 

Reflection:

What does God’s word say about the direction you are going in?

Is He asking you to consider a “rest stop” so you can take a spiritual inventory of some kind?

Is He asking you to move over and make room for another on your journey?

 

Thank you for joining me on this journey.

Kinita

For the Sake of Friendship

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The theme of the retreat was “Surrender” and it was based on my book, “I Am Hagar: Forgotten No More”.  The retreat was held offsite at a Christian retreat center – great for camping during the summer or renting an upscale cottage anytime of the year.

On this particular retreat we were set up in one of their beautiful cottages that made us feel right at home and provided most of us with the rest and relaxation we needed.  Each cottage had its own special name.  Happiness, Faith, Joy, Jubilee, just to name a few.  However, there was one name that was disturbing and somewhat alarming to some of us.  The name?  “Amistad” – with the word “Friendship” below it.

 

 

First of all, for those who may not know, “Amistad” was the name of a ship that transported slaves and was featured in the well known movie by the same name. On it the slaves endured horrible atrocities which have lingered in the memories and hearts of many African Americans as a painful reminder of what was done to their ancestors.

Below the nameplate at the “Amistad” cottage was the word “Friendship”.  It was also the only sign that had an explanation word after it.  Actually, it felt like an oxymoron.

 

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Secondly, all the other cottage names were positive and self-explanatory while this one didn’t seem to fit. Although it did need explaining, the word “friendship” didn’t help.  Needless to say, none of us were impressed with what appeared to be a very insensitive and demeaning message on that cottage.

In defense of the decision-makers at the camp, we didn’t know them or understand the reason behind the decision.  Perhaps it was in effort to be inclusive.  Perhaps there was something of significance to the name that we didn’t know. We wondered if they included the word, “friendship” after it so as “not to offend”.  However, it did offend.  A powerful name like “Amistad” is too full of historical pain and anguish for a lot of people.  Some of us wondered how the nameplate was accepted in the first place.  We chalked it up for effort through ignorance, which is probably one of the most common ways people offend.

All-in-all, it left many of us feeling unsettled, disappointed, embarrassed and yes, even angry for what our African American sisters were feeling.  During the retreat, a few of the women who were staying in that cottage revealed their feelings of  frustration and anger about the sign.  It brought deep sadness and hurt that someone would do such a thing, especially at a Christian camp.

That was enough for the leaders of the retreat. They decided to call the contact person of the camp and lodge a complaint.  It was received and within an hour the sign was removed.

Following the retreat, a formal letter was sent to the leadership of the camp and the issue will be addressed at their next board meeting.  The church group is suggesting that the new name be “Surrender”.  I personally think that’s a great idea!!

 

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This whole scenario played out in the hours between my second and third talk that I gave on that day.  Why is that significant?  First because there were various cultures and races represented at the retreat and secondly, my third talk was entitled, “He Sees Us”.  During that session, I challenged the women to consider what their “us” looked like on a personal level and for them to think about how they include other cultures and races in their personal relationships. I also challenged them to look at their “us” from a women’s ministry angle and then as a church community.

How might God  use them/us to stand together with the people He has put among them/us?

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That day and through the experience with the sign, we were not only given the opportunity to stand with our sisters of colour in what they were experiencing but we also witnessed first hand how the Holy Spirit was very present and showed us in a clear way that He saw us!!

We should hurt when our brothers and sisters hurt.  In this case, it happened to be around the issue of race and slavery. That is true unity in Christ.

Friends, it is our Unity in Christ that binds us to each other.  Unfortunately, we often allow the messages of the world, the flesh and the devil fracture that unity.

Let us not take our oneness for granted or to excuse away our ignorance.

Let us keep learning and growing forward with our brothers and sisters of all races and cultures.

Let us not only keep the lines of communication open between each other but especially between us and God.  If we do so, we will be able to hear what the Holy Spirit wants us to do to be part of the solution instead of the problem as far as the sin of racism is concerned.

Let us give and receive forgiveness (for misunderstandings) freely as Christ forgave us WHILE we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).  His forgiveness is available for all of us.  He went to the Cross on our behalf and sent his Spirit in order that we would be drawn to Him with confession on our tongues and a receptive heart for His forgiveness.

Have you been forgiven much?  Then I remind myself and encourage you to share that forgiveness freely.

REFLECTION:

What “sign(s)” has God put in your life to challenge your walk with Him?

What circumstance(s) has God put in your life to grow a deeper intimacy with Him?

Who has God brought into your “us”?

How is God leading you to stand / walk beside another person to become part of the solution and not part of the problem?

 

For more information on this retreat, the “Understanding Culture” workshop or other topics, and how you can have them at your church or community group, check out

https://wordpress.com/page/kinitaschripsema.com/188  (retreat)

https://wordpress.com/page/kinitaschripsema.com/586  (Understanding Culture)

https://wordpress.com/page/kinitaschripsema.com/413  (Speaking Topics)

Or please feel free to contact me at kinitaathome@att.net.

Thank you for joining me on this journey.

Kinita