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Independence Day Reflection: Love and Unity

It’s almost Independence Day. I’m thinking a lot today about the division I’ve seen in my newsfeed since the huge SCOTUS ruling that was given Friday. For Iowans, we’ve had several years to “celebrate” or “get used to” (whatever your opinion may be on gay marriage) the idea of marriage rights extending to any couple, regardless of sexual orientation. In those years, Hope’s has served a number of homosexual couples planning their weddings, so this isn’t something new to us… but it’s new to our nation as a whole.
And our nation is in a state of NOT-whole.
Our country decided to have a separation of church and state over 200 years ago. That’s part of why we celebrate Independence Day. We are all free to believe what we want to believe, worship how we want to worship, and love who we want to love. As a Christian, I am SO VERY THANKFUL for that freedom. I do not have to risk my life when I go to church or declare Christ as my Savior. Because of our history and priorities, it’s not surprising to me that marriage rights have been extended; our country is founded on the right to live your life the way you choose.

Does that mean everyone will believe it’s “right” to offer this right? No, as has been the case for most things throughout our history. When the Bible speaks of love and marriage, it clearly can be interpreted in different ways. I’ve seen so many “takes” on this in posts by Christian writers and friends the past few days. It’s not totally clear-cut how God wants to us as Christians to respond to homosexuality, as evidenced by the arguments from both sides of the issue, all offering scripture to support their points.

But I do know this, and I’m happy to see that most Christians I know have recognized this: God CLEARLY calls us to love one another. It doesn’t matter where a person is in life, in their walk with God, or in their romantic relationship, everyone deserves to be shown God’s love. God’s love is demonstrated for us in His GRACE. I hope all people recognize this, and Christians use this historic moment to reach out with His grace to those who may not know it.

And, I think it’s an important time to remember we are all designed differently by our Creator, ON PURPOSE. We all have different things to offer our world, our independent nation, our church, and our relationships. God tells us this, encouraging us to use our gifts to work together for good.

This is so important for us as a nation to remember, but also for us to remember in our marriages. I thank God every day for the differences between JD and myself. I am so grateful for his ease with budgeting, his calm logic he brings to stressful situations, and his incredible people skills. I know my strengths with language, understanding of children and development, and planning skills to organize our home life are equally valuable to our relationship. We support and balance each other, making life so much better than living it alone.

God’s Word speaks of the importance of diversity and of love in some of the most powerful chapters of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 12 & 13 (below). This is what I’m reflecting on in my life this week leading up to Independence Day. And I feel much more at ease than I did Friday and Saturday as I scrolled through my divided Facebook newsfeed and overheard heated, sometimes hateful discussions. I hope it brings you some comfort and a sense of hope for unity as well.

Blessings to you and those you love. I pray you know and feel God’s grace this week and always.

Faith, Hope & Love,
Johanna
1 Corinthians 12 & 13
Concerning Spiritual Gifts
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
Unity and Diversity in the Body
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.
Love Is Indispensable
And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
1If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

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