Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Avoid them!

"I urge you, brothers & sisters, to keep an eye on those who cause dissensions and offenses, in opposition to the teaching you have learned; avoid them.  For such people do not serve our Lord Christ..."
(Romans 16:17-18a)

Life is filled with choices.  One of the choices we have to make every single day is how we spend our (limited) energy.  How do we spend our physical energy (time during the day) & our mental/emotional/spiritual energy (what preoccupies our hearts & minds)?

As Christians, we believe the Bible holds the key to living a life of meaning & purpose.  Jesus, Paul, the prophets, and the Patriarchs have all shed insight on what God desires from us and for the world around us.  A lot of it involves grace, peace, joy, hope, love, & mutual upbuilding.  When asked so sum up all of the teachings of scripture, Jesus said: "Love God.  Love others."  Period.

Not everyone chooses to live this way, however.  Paul knew some folks are so caught up in their own feelings/thoughts/desires that they fail to see the bigger picture of what God is calling them to.  Oftentimes these folks "cause dissensions & offenses" within the church.  This can lead to stress, pain, frustration, and a lot of wasted energy.

Paul has some very simple advice to the church in Rome: AVOID THEM!  That's it.  Don't try to argue with these people.  Don't try to change them.  Don't waste energy worrying about their complaints or charges or attacks.  Avoid them.  Love them, but avoid them.

To borrow a phrase from a current Taylor Swift hit song, "Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate!" Avoid them.  Use your creative, life-giving, God-honoring time and energy elsewhere.  Life is too short to spend it fueling the fires of dissenters.

PS. Of course, it's always important to check in with the Holy Spirit to make sure there's nothing from the dissenters that God isn't wanting to teach you.  Sometimes there's truth even from the mouths of those trying to take you down.  Allow God to guide you here.  But don't get sucked in to the negative energy and morass of the haters.

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