Greetings Peoria area homeschoolers. Everything is changing… and it’s happening at what seems to be break-neck speed. I keep looking around thinking, “Hey, can we stop for a second? I need to breathe and process and catch up.” Alas, the world continues barreling onward, uncaring that I just cannot keep up. At times, I grow frustrated and overwhelmed as I watch division infiltrating the church just as quickly. Personal convictions have become more important than relationships. Brothers and sisters in Christ who used to carry one another’s burdens are now accusing one another and pushing them away. Many have lost focus on who we represent and what we are supposed to be doing in His name. Even so, God is in control and I can have confidence in His work and trust that He is always drawing me closer. I may not understand what He is doing, but I know He works all things together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Rom 8:28) I want to approach the topics of division and change, and I will try to do so lovingly and respectfully.
Let me start with the division I see happening within the church and the homeschool community. To our shame, masks have become “the great divider” amongst us. People on both sides of this chasm have become so convinced of their personal conviction that we assume anyone on the other side must be wrong and therefore in sin. Paul spends a whole chapter in Romans guiding us on how we should be handling situations just like this. Perhaps right now the Holy Spirit is urging you to take a moment to refresh yourself by reading chapter 14. Paul lays out the path before us this way: Welcome the one who is weaker in the faith but don’t quarrel over opinions (v.1) - Don’t pass judgement on your brother (v.4) - Be fully convinced in your own mind of what God is telling YOU to do (v.5) - Live out your conviction in honor of the Lord (v.6) - Trust in God’s sovereignty (v.8), Don’t pass judgement on your brother (v.10) - Be accountable to God for yourself (v.12) - Decide never to put a stumbling block in your brother’s path (v.13) - Focus on the kingdom of God (v. 17) - Pursue making peace with and building up your brother (v. 19) - Keep your conviction between you and God (v. 22). Peter communicates this path a little more succinctly in 1 Peter 1:22, Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.
Jesus knew unity would be a struggle for us. In John 17, His high priestly prayer, He prayed for all those who would believe in Him, that they may all be one… so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (v.20-21) Jesus clearly states that everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:35) This is why Paul urged the churches to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Eph. 4:3) Our divisions soil the name of Christ because they testify against Him. Brothers and sisters, we are called to carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal. 6:2) You know the law don’t you? Love one another, even as I have loved you. (John 13:34) As the church, I feel we are not doing a good job loving one another. As homeschoolers, we must remember that our children learn the most by our example. Allow me to toss out a few questions for you to challenge yourself on how well you are doing. Have I searched scripture and become fully convinced of my convictions and am I living them out consistently and gracefully? How do I treat those who disagree with me? Do I judge them and put a stumbling block in their path, or do I look for ways to encourage and build them up in their faith? Am I really putting others before myself or am I deceiving myself? Am I trusting in God’s sovereignty or am I walking in fear?
Now, let me say a few words about change while attempting to lighten your mood and maybe even give you something to get excited about. FACT: Most people don’t like change. FACT: Change is always happening. FACT: People know change is always happening and they still don’t like it. FACT: I am one of those people. Chuckle and chill for a minute. Most of the changes happening are completely out of our control and we need constant reminding that God is still in control. We can also be encouraged that God uses change in our lives to help us let go of the past and keep us moving forward. I believe change is a constant that God uses to draw us toward Him and help us to rely on Him. Sometimes God even directly instructs us to make changes. We can be sure that when God directs the change, that change is inevitable. And sometimes, God may simply tell us to bury the hatchet.
See you at convention!
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