Do you see them? The opposing sides with their defenses up? The steely eyed glances passed back and forth amongst those in the body of Christ - as we're waiting, watching, for one another to make a false move.
It doesn't happen everywhere or all the time. But it's hard to imagine that every community is completely void of the cautious look-around. There are exceptions to the rule, for sure. But it does seem like there are large amounts of people really working hard to draw battle lines, to determine who is right and who is wrong, to clarify who’s camp they’re in, and these people seem prepared to decimate the opponent they’ve determined their enemy.
I've been there, so I'm going to go first and confess. I've judged my sisters in Christ - those coheirs of the kingdom, those carrying heavy burdens. I've made sweeping statements about what the state of their souls must be like based on how they dress, what they read, what they post, and who they follow. I treated my sisters like enemies.
I forgot the enemy was the enemy. It's not the author who has a different viewpoint, or the pastor who said the wrong thing. I forgot that Satan, the one leading the charge to cause dissension and confusion and conflict was the only enemy. And then I started to see the battle lines around me, including the ones I'd drawn, and my heart was grieved.
Here’s the thing: this happens on a macro level, but it also happens in our churches, our homes, and friend groups. Someone sins, someone slips up, someone does what humans ultimately do and act fallible - and suddenly, WE ARE ALL UP IN ARMS. We can’t believe they’d do that! We’re incredulous. I thought they were a man of God or a woman of God and if so, how and why could they go and do that: act like a human?!
If we’re talking about holiness, the fighter inside of all of us (our pride) is going to work VERY hard to tempt us into only talking about how other people aren’t holy. We’re going to be tempted to see how that person over there (across the room or across the country) isn’t agreeing with the holiness that God has written over their lives. So let’s stop right now and make a pact: we’ll stay in our own circle of holiness. When we talk about ways we might be falling short of the identity that’s ours in Christ Jesus, we’ll talk about it like it’s just that: ours. Not yours. Not theirs. Not so and so’s.
Let’s draw a circle around ourselves and say - this is the human I’m most determined to help honor God and I refuse to entertain the temptation to spend my days judging others and treating humans like the enemy.
Is this hard? Yes. Will it massively free us up? Yes. Are there exceptions to the rule? Absolutely.
But you’re going to have to read Dance Stand Run to hear a little more about that.
Chapter Three is called “Draw a Holy Circle” and I can’t wait for you to read it. If you preorder before the book launches on October 24th, we’ve got some crazy fun gifts for you. Head here to check them out.