It has brought me to tears on more than one occasion during my prayer times - and I'm not really much of a crier.
Today, as I prayed (and cried) over the lack of unity I see in the body of Christ, I felt anger rising in me at people's blindness. Don't they know that we need to be united? Don't they realize the turn off we have become to the unbelieving world? As I prayed and felt the stirrings of righteous anger, God brought to mind a book I read recently.
It stopped me in my spiritual tracks before I had veered completely onto that path labeled "self-righteous." I know you're dying to know what the story was, so I'll share it with you. It's from a book called Warped. The whole plot is rather complicated, so I'm just going to share this small part of the story.
There was a young prince who wandered into a wood. As he dismounted from his noble steed, to walk through the narrow, leafy paths, a small dwelling seemed to spring up from nowhere. Although he had been in these woods many times, he had never seen this small house. Looking at it closely, it seemed to have grown from the very ground - covered in flowering vines and made from tree boughs as it was.
A small, elderly woman poked her head from the doorway and greeted him warmly. The young prince, seeing her tiny, frail form felt safe and entered her home when he was invited. She chatted amicably with him and he relaxed into the encounter. She drew ever nearer, but the young prince had no fears of a little, old lady - even if she did seem a bit odd.
The old woman pulled a small stone from her pocket and touched his chest with it. She started to babble undecipherable words. The young prince thought that the poor old thing had lost her wits - until he tried to move and found that he couldn't.
The old woman continued her garbled speech until the young man's very essence had dribbled out. The next thing he knew, he had changed. He was no longer a young man, but a strong unicorn with a long, spiral horn protruding from his forehead. Terrified, he galloped away into the woods.
Several days past and the young prince's family started to become frantic. Where was he? He had appeared to vanish into thin air. The next day, an old woman was in the village, telling everyone she had seen a unicorn, and that the unicorn had killed the young prince.
Immediately, the young prince's brother vowed that he would kill the unicorn. He mounted a hunt, and being an excellent hunter, had soon cornered the beast. The brother's eyes glittered with malice and determination as he approached the pawing, rearing beast - the enemy. He looked into the animal's eyes, and for a brief, dizzying moment he thought.... no, this was the enemy. The brother shook his head. He slashed at the unicorn. The unicorn, perfectly cognizant of who he was, didn't want to hurt his brother, but knew, his brother would surely kill him because his brother believed him to be the enemy.
The unicorn struck out with sharp hooves, wounding his brother in the arm. In the ensuing confusion, the unicorn broke away and escaped into the woods, dripping blood from a wound in his neck. His brother sat on the ground, the wound in his arm dripping blood onto the ground.
The witch - for that is what the old woman really was - cackled her glee. She had gotten what she wanted and the brother was still clueless that he had been hair's breadth away from mortally wounding his own brother for he was deceived.
This is what happens to Christians all the time. We are deceived into thinking our brother or sister is the enemy. They aren't. Instead, like the unicorn and brother, both parties run away from each other, bleeding, while satan sits back and has a good laugh at our expense.
How can we stop being deceived into thinking our brother or sister is the enemy? The answer is found through out the New Testament. Whenever there is a list of things you need to deal with fellow believers, you will always find the word "humility." It reminds of the verse in Proverbs that says, "A soft answer turns away wrath." It's the opposite of how we want to respond when we feel wronged by someone isn't it?
But as is so often the case, God asks us to do the very opposite of what our flesh clamors for us to do. There's a whole list.
If you want to be strong - be weak.
If you want to be great - become small.
If you want to be first - be last.
If someone treats you badly - pray for them.
If someone curses you - bless them.
I don't know about you, but those things don't come naturally to me, but it's really the only way to affect unity.
"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;" Phil. 2:3
~ Blessings, Bronte