I think I could have also titled this post, “Things I am Bad at, Part II,” or even, “Confessions Part II,” but then I might run into some copyright laws with Usher.
Last week I told you how bad I am at sharing. Well, here’s something else I’m really terrible at: liking people. Oh, those words sting just writing them. I love people, I really, truly, do. I am a people person. But I have a very hard time enjoying certain people. My tolerance is short. I get annoyed too easily and look at relationships selfishly: if I don’t like that person, why would I spend time with them? Why would I try to enjoy them when I know that they bother me?
The worst part about it is that I have grown complacent. I accept the way I feel as the way things are, and resign to not liking someone forever, proclaiming, “that’s just the way it is.” I throw someone into the category of “people I don’t like,” and I leave them sitting there, helpless, locked behind bars, sentenced to life with no chance of parole.
But like he always does, Jesus is opening my eyes to something bigger, convicting me that this isn’t the way I am supposed to live.
In John 17, Jesus prays for us. The letters are all red in my Bible because every word is a word that Jesus prays. It’s a powerful chapter, reading the words that the Savior of the world prayed for ME. Do you know what He prays for, over and over again? Unity.
“Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name- the name you gave me- so that they may be one as we are one.” John 17:11
Jesus prays that we would be unified the way the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are unified. Unfathomable unity.
“I pray also for those who will believe in me through this message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.” John 17:21
Again, unfathomable unity.
“May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:23
I don’t know exactly what complete unity looks like here on earth, apart from the perfect heavenly relationship of the Trinity, but I know that I’m not living in it. And to go even farther than that, not only am I not living in it, but I’m not seeking it.
We live in a terribly broken world, and it’s been this way since the fall. It’s so terribly broken that we will never live in complete unity with anyone- not a best friend, a boyfriend, or even a spouse. But Jesus prays these words for us because through Him, the impossible are possible, and He desires for us to seek the impossible, to pursue the unfathomable. He wants us to ask Him to show up in our relationships.
I was eating lunch with some friends this weekend, when the name of a girl I don’t particularly like came up. Like I usually do, I made a backhanded comment, clearly revealing my feelings towards her, and then, when questioned, spoke openly about how much I dislike her. My dear friend Maddie looked me in the eyes, and said, “don’t you want reconciliation?”
I was confused. Why was she questioning my right to dislike someone? And, also, what was there to reconcile? We didn’t have a fight, I just don’t like her.
But Maddie is kind and wise and gentle where I am selfish and naive and brash. I didn’t want her wisdom because I had become perfectly content in not liking this girl, and in my moment of defensiveness, I felt she had no right to question me.
“Why would I want to reconcile with her? I just don’t like her.”
And she said, point blank, “Because you have the Holy Spirit inside of you.”
Bam. And then I read John 17, and it’s like spiritual punches to the gut. Unity. Complete unity. Reconciliation.
It’s time for me to reconcile. Time to give up my self-righteousness and my own desires and stubborn ways, and to start living in a way that proclaims that I am following Jesus- the ultimate reconciler, the only one who lives in complete unity.
As we enter into a time of Lent, I enter into a time of reconciliation. I am ready to put down the weapons and wave my white flag, asking for forgiveness, asking for reconciliation and unity. I’m ready to start giving out apologies and fighting my complacency. I’m ready to give up my selfish desires and to submit to The One whose love knows no bounds.
Lord, give me joy in relationships where I refuse to look for it. Exchange my cold bitter heart for one of flesh and full of grace.