She had been a member of the church I served for many years. On this particular day, she came into my office, sat down, looked at me sadly, and sighed, "Why can’t everyone just get along?" It was not a real question, but rather more of an appeal. I sat quietly and waited to hear more, wondering if Jesus ever asked himself the same question as his disciples argued among themselves.
The previous Sunday, I had spoken of relationships and the opposing life forces that affect our relationships: togetherness and separateness. It seems that humans, as relational beings, live between the tensions created by these two life forces. On the one hand, we are drawn together while, on the other hand, we are driven apart. Those who understand such things say relationships shift and change within the push and tug of these opposing forces.
If this is so, and the evidence testifies it is, we cannot hope to maintain a "status quo" in our relationships. Neither can we afford the luxury of living in the past, thinking "I wish it could be like it used to be." God through Jesus Christ calls us to face the future, with all of its changes and unknowns. Consequently, we are given FAITH (that is, ultimate trust in and committed loyalty to God) through Christ as the means by which we are to face the future without undue anxiety. If we truly have FAITH, we accept the constant changes within our relationships and do not fear the freedom which true relationships require.
An active FAITH requires us to acknowledge the freedom of others to relate to us in their own way, even as those ways change within the circumstances of our lives. The faithful Christian does not have the option of requiring others to meet his or her needs. We are called out of such selfishness and the prideful arrogance that demands others put us first. We are called to love one another even as Jesus loved us and gave himself for us. If it happens that our needs are met, this is a gift of grace with comes to us through the exercise of FAITH. To make FAITH active in our lives is to acknowledge relationships as "sacraments" before Christ and to live in righteousness, which is, being rightly related to God and our neighbor.
So how can we just get along? Jesus Christ is our example…by emptying ourselves of selfish desires and opening ourselves to the needs of others…by understanding our relationships as sacraments, holy before God, and not controlled by human arrogance…by allowing others to freely relate to us within the tensions of togetherness and separateness without criticism and judgment …and by living for the future through FAITH. The Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians, "the only thing that counts is faith working through love" (Gal. 5:6b), but he never said it would be easy.
Eugene C. Buie, DMin. Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.