Perhaps in recent weeks, months, or years you have, like me, been wondering where your place is in all the work that still needs to be done regarding the reunification of humanity. Sometimes, when we have a particular burden on our hearts, God is calling us to be the very answer we wish existed to the problem(s) we observe. Other times, we are so busy expending our energy and efforts in the various areas we feel drawn to that we bypass the vacant spaces that await our awakening to God’s call on our lives to fill them. God’s purpose for the body of Christ is to be the example to a hurting world of what unity is and how His love is to be effectively expressed.
I found myself drawn to the passage that we will study together today. My hope is that, through our deeper exploration of this passage, we can better identify the unique part each of us can play in the larger charge to be the light of the world and embody the love of Jesus through our unique gifts, imparted by the Holy Spirit. The way that we operate in our gifting is how we honor God and bring glory to His name. While this is a popular passage within the church for its identification of spiritual gifts, one additional lens has been used to help us broaden our scope of the message Paul shares. For anyone unfamiliar with him, Paul is one of the New Testament (NT) leaders, called apostles. The heading of the passage in question, “Unity and Diversity in the Body,” already speaks volumes in itself. Let’s dive right in.
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It is a trick of the enemy to get you to put your trust in anything other than God. That’s not news to many, but let me make this very clear. The enemy is very good at playing his role. He is committed. He has rehearsed every line and prepared ahead of time to use every opportunity to his advantage. With that said, we are not left to fend for ourselves against his schemes. We have a solid line of defense available to us in every situation we face. We have the full armor of God.
Whenever something is repeated in scripture, it highlights an important point for our understanding. In Ephesians 6:10-18 NIV, the words “put on the full armor of God” are repeated twice within two verses (v. 11 and 13). The most significant word in this repetition is “full.” We must put on the full armor, not just parts of it. This repeated command has crucial information sandwiched in between and I think it would be negligent for us to move forward without briefly exploring what is listed:
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“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.“Ephesians 6:12 NIV
25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, [a]“Be of good cheer! [b]It is I; do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14:25-27 NKJV).
The disciples were in a dire situation. They were caught in a storm that had been raging for some time (according to the passage, it would have been after three o’clock in the morning and, based on verses 22-23, they set sail prior to the evening’s start). In the distance, they saw something that looked unfamiliar coming towards them. They were troubled by what they saw and began to cry out in fear. What are you inviting into your life during difficult situations? The disciples were inviting fear to take hold of them. Jesus, knowing where fear would lead, was swift in His encouragement of their faith, attempting to assure them of who He was. Since they already knew Jesus and witnessed His track record, one would think that this would be enough to quell their fears. However, that did not appear to be the outcome.
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At this time, when hatred has, once again, reached a fever pitch, the names of slain Black individuals continue to increase, institutional oppression persists, COVID-19 affects Black and Brown communities at alarming rates, and our neighborhoods are over-policed but somehow under-protected….it can be so easy to give into the fear and fury that builds within. However, whether you are a member of the affected community or an ally, please allow love for humanity to precede hatred of injustice in informing your decision making. Know that righteous anger for justice to be implemented is critical to the cause, but, never forget that love is a tool to be implemented at all times. Love is an action word as well as a heart posture. The Bible instructs us to be angry and not to sin (Ephesians 4:26). When we seek justice from a place of anger or hatred, we aren’t seeking justice…we’re seeking revenge. God made it very clear that vengeance belongs to Him (Romans 12:19). As monuments of oppression are being torn down, seeds of peace need to be planted in their place. That peace begins with reconciliation, rooted in love.
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The story of Jesus feeding the five thousand is quite popular for the miracle shared, but, as I read through this text, God highlighted a few details that are equally important for those who He has called (hint: that includes you). Without further ado, let’s get into the story.
13 When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities.
The “it” referred to at this point in the story is John the Baptist’s beheading. If you are at all familiar with the relationship he had with Jesus, then you understand how devastating this news must have been to hear (Jesus was baptized by John, who was given the special assignment of preparing the way for Jesus before his arrival and public confirmation by God (see Luke 1:5-25). The story continues:
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For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.2 Timothy 1:7 NLT
Let’s just start right out of the gate with the truth. God did not give us that spirit of timidity. Yeah, I said us. As usual, I am here to address something that God is working on in my life as well as sharing a word that I hope will encourage you to stand up and stop allowing the fear of failure or any other anxiety-ridden thought to prevent you from living in your God-ordained purpose.
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