Leesa stood at the pinnacle of a tall mountain looking out at what lay ahead. It was daunting, the valley was far below, and the object of her journey a distant future dream. She could see the love of her life on the mountain in the distance waiting for her, but not alone. It wasn’t just the distance that kept them apart, there were other things in the way. Attitudes and beliefs inside both of them that needed to changing or softening. The obstacles in the valley would bring those out into the open so their power could be deflated, and healing could take place. Leesa had a couple of friends traveling with her, shoulders to cry on, friends to help her untangle the puzzles of what she believed about herself, her life up till now, and her religious faith. These were all important to deal with because her love had changed, he was so different from the man she once knew. She wasn’t blindly in love with him anymore, how could she be with everything that she had been through. Leesa turned around and took a long look at how far she had come from the beginning of her journey, and it was amazing. Most of it was shadows and darkness, but there were places of joy, places of peace, places of renewal. Turning back to the road ahead she could see that there were similar places in the valley ahead of her. Somehow, she gathered what courage and strength she had and started down to the valley path.
What does it mean to be unequally yoked in your relationships? Are you in a relationship that is lopsided? How do you make things more equal? Are soulmates immune to this unequal partnership?
Biblically, unequally yoked meant being in relationship with an unbeliever in Jesus. I believe that being unequally yoked goes beyond this simple explanation. It is any relationship that makes partners unequal in some way; whether it be religious, career, mental, emotional, or physical. It’s anyone putting greater value on where they are at over where their partner is at. This being said I don’t believe that any relationship is perfectly equal. Every person is on their own individual journey through life and have had unique and different experiences than the person they have chosen to spend their life with. Even if you experience the same event with someone the experience, the lessons, and the growth will be different for both people. We have all played the secret game where one person starts a secret and it gets passed down the line and the last person speaks the secret as they heard it. It is always different from the original. It’s the same with life experiences.
I don’t believe that it is possible to have a completely equal footing in any relationship, sibling, friendship, work relationship, romantic, or soulmate relationship. I believe that being unequally yoked is a blessing in disguise. It allows for growth, if you are open minded enough to actually hear and digest what the other person has to teach you. It makes you look at other possibilities, and creates an open door for change.
Let’s digress for a moment, “soulmate” is a catch-phrase that has grown to mean the ideal perfect relationship. I can tell you right now it’s not perfect. I have one and to begin with we are not equally yoked in any way, shape, or form. After walking very different life paths, we are not the same people we were when we first met. It takes time to rebuild a solid relationship of any kind. Soulmates fall into the pit of thinking that they instantly know everything about the other person, even after years of separation. But if you open your heart, mind, and spirit to all the possibilities, and facets it can be the most fulfilling relationship possible. It takes work like any other relationship and brings great blessing if you allow it. My advice to soulmates is this: don’t let romance take over (for women – easier said than done if your soulmate is a man), don’t assume anything – even if you think you are right. Build slow, a soulmate is a partner to help weather storms, and an anchor to keep you steady in turmoil. And above all never assume you know what is best for the other person.
So, how do you make things more equal? Hard work, honesty, truth, forgiveness, and love. A relationship will never be perfectly equal, and you shouldn’t want it to be. To being with it’s boring, variety is the spice of life and differences should be celebrated, worked through, and learned from. All relationships are for growth mental, emotional, and spiritual. Relationships are adventures as different in variety as there are books on shelves or e-readers. Read as many as you can, re-read the ones that give you the greatest joy, but always be willing to try a new one. It will always teach you something, and it will always be worth the time it took to read it.
Matthew 5:10New International Version (NIV)
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Many people think this verse means to be persecuted because of their Christian faith, but that is not is not what it really means. To fully understand this verse you need to first understand that the word Jesus uses here mean to righteousness. The word he uses is “dikaiosynē” pronounced, “dē-kī-o-sü’-nā.” It means: in a broad sense: the state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God
- the doctrine concerning the way in which man may attain a state approved of God
- integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting
- in a narrower sense, justice or the virtue which gives each his due.
It means living moral rightness, tolerance, and love. Living the life that Christ gave his life for so we could attain that acceptance by God. Whether you believe in original sin or original blessing, we all sin, we are all incapable of truly being righteous without Christ’s gift of salvation. To truly be accepted by God, we need to deal with the wrongness in our lives – now I’m talking conscious and unconscious sins and transgressions. Many times we don’t know or recognize when we have hurt someone whether it’s someone we know or don’t know. It is the example and reflection of our lack of love, tolerance and caring for everyone around us. It’s our natural response to judge and criticize everything in or around our lives, even if we don’t know – mostly don’t know – why someone is the way they are. Our need to make everyone fit in our box of what we think is moral rightness.
So, what does moral rightness look like besides just finding ourselves acceptable to God. It is walking in the lifestyle of the Fruit of the Spirit and the principles Jesus taught and the example he gave us. Jesus was sent to save every human being on the planet, he wouldn’t condemn someone out of hand because of his world views, he would listen, question, and then lovingly correct or help them understand God’s view. It’s the way Christ wants us all to live. There is freedom in this way of life. No longer are we concerned with being critical or judgmental, we are concerned with giving another person real unconditional love.
Why does this lifestyle attract persecution? We are all reflections or mirrors that let other people see that there are things in their life that hinder them from living a true life of freedom, and that is not pleasant. It is a reminder that they are not what they could be. This causes anger, and anger turns to hatred, that turns to tormenting the person that is making them feel bad about themselves. It goes back to the splinter in your brother’s eye when there is a plank in your own.
Now, there are many ways that we can be persecuted from shunning, to segregation, to being physically threatened or beaten or killed. No one is immune to persecution, we all have or will experience this probably more than once in our lives. And there is no avoiding it.
How do we come out on top of persecution? We realize that it is not necessarily us that is causing the anger being wrought on us, it is the self anger of the other person giving the persecution. We are just reflecting how they wish the could be, and haven’t figured out how to attain what we have. Jesus’ solution to this is to pray for those who persecute you, that they would become willing to see and hear what God has been trying to tell them about how He wants them to be – loving vessels that He can work through.
This is by no means easy. It’s probably the hardest thing for humans to do. Our human nature says to hit back – make the other person hurt as badly as they are hurting you. We need to come to the realization that the other person is hurting far more than the abuse they are giving us. It is remarkably like a wounded animal being cornered. So, live your life in compassion for these hurting people and continue setting your righteous example – there is no telling who will be touched and healed by your lifestyle of righteousness.
NIV from www.BibleGateway.com
Matthew 5:9 (NIV) 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
As children of God/Divine we are called to a ministry of reconciliation. But what does a ministry of reconciliation look like and what kind of reconciliation are we talking about. How will our world change if every child of God/Divine took this mandate seriously and lived the life of a peacemaker?
First, let’s take a look at what reconciliation is. Dictionary.com shows 3 points describing reconciliation. To being with it is an act of reconciling, as when former enemies agree to an amicable truce. It’s also, the state of being reconciled, as when someone becomes resigned to something not desired. Lastly, it’s the process of making consistent or compatible. So reconciliation is an act, a state of being, and a process.
Like the other characteristics of the Beatitudes this is also a conscious decision to behave in a certain way that is contrary to our natural way of life and thinking. It is actively stepping outside our comfort zones and allowing the Divine/God make us into reflections of His loving self. Letting His love become our life’s motivation. So how does a person who is naturally concerned with self become a child of reconciliation.
To begin with we (all people, regardless of what our faith looks like) need to get to the root of our differences. To do that we need to ask questions and really listen to what the other person says when they answer. We need to decide to be a people who truly desire to understand not only ourselves, but the other person involved in the conversation. We need to allow the spirit of wisdom to control our actions and our words so that they become ruled by compassion and love. This will result in an atmosphere of tolerance that will surround all people who actively pursue a life of reconciliation.
This is not an overnight solution, it is hard work, and many times it will seem like trying to attain the impossible. But humanity has the ability to be resilient, flexible, and adaptable to new ideas and ways of doing things. Look at how progress has changed our world and how simple communication has changed since time began. People evolve and grow. It will take people willing to step up and take an active role in creating grassroots organizations that promote reconciliation and growth to all people world wide. It will take people willing to make the changes necessary to renew our planet and restore the damage that humans have made that have poisoned the resources all creatures need to thrive on this planet. This is our home, and we (all people) have trashed it very much like a child will trash their room when they are angry. Keep in mind that when we think we are punishing the people that have made us angry and resentful – we are really punishing ourselves in a greater measure.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Matthew 5:8 (NIV)
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
First, I want to say, “Thank you for your patience.” It has been a crazy couple of months with holidays and my 50th birthday. I have had a lot of attitude changes over the last few months. For those who deal with mental and physical illness, and not really liking who they are, it has been life changing. I have come to a place where I may not be feeling my best, but I have decided to truly enjoy my life and enjoy being a woman for the first time in my life. I have several men in my life, who have helped me see the beauty I hold and haven’t seen for myself. I have always felt that being a girl/woman has been a disadvantage growing up and just came to a realization that I have been wrong for 50 years. Being a woman is not a disadvantage it is the power of showing the tender side of God and the beauty of creation.
So, what does this have to do with our passage for the week? It comes down to the meaning of purity and the purity of our hearts. We think of the surface meaning of purity as being clean, of not having a mixing of anything making us unacceptable. Like being 100% German, Scandinavian, Indian, French or whatever. We become so hung up on purebred that we forget that there is a purity of spirit and conscience that has nothing to do with our physical makeup.
The Greek word for purity in our passage is katharos it means what we believe about what it means to be pure but it has deeper meaning. It means to be ‘fit to bear fruit,’ containing nothing forbidden, free from corruption, guilt or sin. This is a cleanliness of mind and spirit- a renewal of innocence within our lives. We get the English word, ‘catharsis,’ which is the means by which we can become pure in mind and spirit. It is the process that is used to get rid of the dirt, mud, and grime that life and experience can throw at us to make us unlovable not only to ourselves, but to others. It is also the process of sanctification to make us presentable to a Holy and Righteous God. It also makes us more presentable to ourselves and others in our lives.
There are many ways to activate catharsis in our lives, but to begin we need to see that unloveliness live in our lives, have the courage to see that we have allowed this dirt and grime in our lives, realize the need to change, and have the courage to go after the sanctification that we need, want, and desire. Unfortunately, there is no one way that works for everyone. Each person needs to come to a place where they are ready to change and find the way that works for them. Some will need professional help, some will need spiritual guidance, and others may just stumble on their answers in the eyes of someone special.
I have a friend that has really had an influence on this change and has kicked in my ‘want to.’ His motto is “I am just living the life.” Meaning, at this point he is enjoying being single. I have taken that motto to heart and changed it to ‘Live Life, Don’t! Sit on the Bench of Life.’ He and my male roommates are helping me see the beauty I hold and I am coming to accept that beauty. I am worth being around and it’s okay to have fun and I don’t have to feel guilty that I am not serving someone else or being productive.
I am also exploring other religious point of views, thanks to my friend, Mark. My conclusion so far is that there is a commonality among the belief systems I have looked at; and it comes down to living out the fruit of the Spirit in a real and practical way. It’s not about religion it is about purity of conscience and how we view God, ourselves, other people, and creation.
This is purity – cleaning our minds, hearts, and spirits – walking in the reality of a pure conscience, loving not only God, but ourselves; and allowing freedom to release us from the prisons we have created for ourselves and others.
Lord God, I pray that those who read these words will see the beauty that you created in them and give them the freedom that your purity can give them. Amen.
The References I used are:
Matthew 5:7New International Version (NIV)
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Dictionary.com defines mercy as compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassion, pity, or benevolence. Looking forward a bit in our travels through “the Sermon on the Mount,” we see mercy in action in, “the Golden Rule.” “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” I call it “Love in Action.” According to Wikipedia, every culture on earth has had some form of this moral rule from ancient Egypt, to the Hebrews, to ancient India, China, Christianity, and Islam. It is also in the newer world religions such as Wicca, and Bahá’í Faith. “In economics, Richard Swift, referring to ideas from David Graeber, suggests that “without some kind of reciprocity society would no longer be able to exist.” ”
It’s the merciful who come to the rescue of those less able to defend or take care of themselves. The merciful go to the suffering areas of our world, whether the suffering is caused by famine, natural disaster, war or terrorism. They care not just for the basic needs of people in crisis, but also care for their mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. They are people who deserve our respect and thanks for going and doing what they do best, when many of us don’t feel able to take action on their own. I feel fortunate to have several friends and some family members who have been a part of youth mission trips and caring ministries, such as “Mission U2,”“YWAM,”and the various medical missions available throughout the world.
In the aftermath of November 13, our world needs more people who live out mercy in their everyday lives. Being “Love in Action” to those who are in need. There’s not much more to say, there is so much misunderstand, mistrust, anger, and hatred in our world. We need to have a fresh wind of the Divine guiding us into greater and deeper mercy to everyone around us. We will destroy our world without it.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
We have all heard messages about how love, happiness, joy, peace, humility, gentleness, kindness, and self-control are a choice we all make; but, what about sin? Sin also is a choice, we choose to be involved in sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. These are all choices we make. At the core of this issue is freewill. Something we all prize and crave is our gift of freedom to choose how we will live our lives, treat others, and God’s creation. Whether you believe in the fall/redemption tradition or original blessing theology doesn’t matter. From the very beginning of mankind, when God gave man dominion over His Creation, he/she has exercised their freewill to change and destroy the things God had made good, including people. Our world is in the condition it’s in because mankind has made the choices to sin against God, people, and creation – being instruments of destruction to all on our world. Romans 8:19-21 says, “For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” So, mankind, who have chosen to sin instead of live by the law of love for God, people, and creation have brought decay and destruction to all the good God created; and, creation waits for the children of God to stand up and liberate creation from all that mankind has done to the world.
We have a broken world and everyone knows it; but, people feel powerless to do what needs to be done to liberate not only creation, but mankind. Singly no one can make change happen – we need to work together with all God’s children to create the redemption of our battered world. This can be done through learning to make the choice to reject sin/destruction/violence/hate and being to learn how to make the choice of loving reconciliation, loving understanding, and loving the diversity that our world provides us every day. That means all people not matter what they believe, what color their skin is, or where they live. Creation needs a renewal of all its climates, lands, and people. It’s just waiting for all the people of God to stand up and choose to use our freewill to make a difference.