Part Of The Whole
Day 1: Preferences. The church of Corinth had experienced several different pastors, leaders, teachers AND they had their favorites. Paul says they are acting like spiritual babies. Read I Corinthians 1:11-13 and 3: 1-4. Everybody has preferences. What fits us, our history, our lens, wiring, personality. It can be what we bring to the band and contribute, or it can lead us all to want or believe we should be the drummer. Can I contribute my gifts and or preferences in a way that is for or makes better the common good? If so, how? Having a preference or point of view is not a bad thing; it’s certainly not a call to be silent. It's in how it's expressed (non-verbals count) and for what purposes. One of the most toxic things in church is to attribute our preference to God. That is to say, to wrap God up in my opinion, claim my way is God's way, the right way, what He wants. Have you ever had someone end the conversation altogether by saying, "God told me to_________?” Is there an area of your life that preferences have gotten unhealthy, that you need to repent of in how you express your preferences? Do you have community, or have you become isolated in your thoughts with no feedback or accountability? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you.
Day 2: Read I Corinthians 8:1-13. Values and convictions. The issue centered around eating meat sacrificed to an idol. Some believed it was wrong while others thought it was no big deal. These issues of values and convictions led to divisions, factions, and schisms. The issues Paul addresses were specific to them at that time, yet we have our own issues with their own underpinnings. We also have values and convictions which we hold to and often attach God to based more upon our personal experiences than theology. Which preference do you tend to live out of? Why or where do you think these come from?
Day 3: Read Luke 9:23 I know in my own life what I value and find most important to me often gets in the way of this verse being lived out in my life – actually shaping my values, attitudes and behavior. What is most important to you? Really, how do you relate to others, spend your time and money? These things have a way of revealing what is often most important. Were you ok with your answer? What tends to be more important to you, being right or being kind? To be understood or to understand? To judge others or to join with Jesus in His view of others? Am I more concerned about being able to express what truth I have to others, or in how my expressions of truth comes across to others? Are you willing to value relationship and unity as more important than getting your way? Humility before God, commitment to love and relationship, grace and compassion all should work to inform or shape how we assert our preferences and opinions. When it comes to living in harmony and unity, we do not always have to see eye-to-eye in order to walk side-by-side.
Day 4: Self-awareness plays a big role in understanding and communicating our preferences well. To be self-aware is to know yourself as you really are. Getting to know yourself inside and out is a continuous journey of participating with God as He peels back layers of who we once were and transforms us to be more like His Son. Self-awareness means spending time reflecting on your heart, attitudes, beliefs, behavior, and dealing with the stuff that keeps taking you to places you don’t desire to go. Too often we don’t take time to do this and instead stuff our emotions, escape reality our preferred way or trample on our hearts. So how self-aware are you? We are all on a different journey. What God is seeking to teach me most likely is not what He is wanting to teach you. We need to open up our hearts to God and focus on our own heart and transformation. It’s a great exercise in learning to trust God’s transformation process of others. Where are you in the self-awareness journey? What is your next step? (For more on self-awareness buy the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves.)
Day 5: Read 1 Corinthians 8:1-2. “While knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. Anyone who claims to know all the answers does not really very much.” Take time today reflecting on these verses and quote. You may want to walk along a path in the woods or get alone in a quiet place or think deeply about this by digging deeper with other resources. You may already know where you need to apply this verse into your life, take that step of trust and do it. We all have different pathways that allow us to hear God speaking to our hearts. Walking in the woods may not be yours, but it’s important to discover how or in what environments or practices you most easily hear God.