Hi everyone. Rob here.
When it comes to divisive issues like politics or theology one of the things I like to say is,
We find common ground when we move to higher ground.
The problem with this phrase is putting it into practice. To find higher ground we need someone to show us where that is. Our base instincts tell us to gather together around lower ground. Let’s find the one thing we have in common and go from there. But this way just leads to compromise on core convictions and a loss of identity and purpose. The other way is to forget about finding common ground at all and simply dig trenches around our ideals and fire potshots at those who think and act differently. This leads to fear, paranoia and hostility. That way can never move us forward, only backwards. So how do we find the higher ground we all so desperately need?
When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment in the Law was, he said this;
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself. All the Law and the prophets hang on these two commandments (Matthew 22:37-39).
God is love. When we learn to love we start moving to higher ground. This is why Jesus taught us to love our enemies as well as our neighbours. When we make that internal shift from hatred to love then we can start doing God’s will in the world. Without that shift we remain part of the enemy’s plans to steal, kill and destroy, starting with our own hearts.
For me though, the challenge isn’t about loving my enemies. I live in a peaceful part of the world without daily threats on my life or well being. No, for me, making the move from tolerating people to truly loving them is the shift that I am being asked to make. Simply tolerating people is lower ground stuff. To move to higher ground I need God himself to take me there. I need the love of God to invade my inmost being if I am ever to love my neighbour or my enemy the way Jesus does.
Paul talks about love this way in 1 Corinthians 13:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
Moving to higher ground isn’t easy and you may feel lost along the way. The good news is that there is someone who has shown us the way and continues to show us the way. Jesus is the shepherd who leads his flock. May we listen to his voice and follow him. May we take many along with us. May love be the higher ground that our churches, our nations and our homes reach together.
Love and peace.