On April 1st, no joke, Tom Wolf issued a state-wide stay-at-home order for Pennsylvania. Agree with that decision or not, here we are.
Just a few weeks later, most people are, well, let’s say we’re ready for things to get back to normal. Not a new normal, back to work, back to school, back to church, back to normal, normal.
Generally speaking, singles are ready for some human interaction. Couples are ready to be a little less coupled. Families are wishing that they owned a slightly larger home.
This morning, we’re starting a series entitled, “Bless This Home.” Through it, we are going to learn how to have better, healthier relationships with one another.
Ideally, being physically forced together inside of a house should draw people closer together, however, it often has the opposite affect.
Is it that too much of a good thing is a bad thing or are there some underlying issues that we need to work on? We’re going to go with the latter for this one.
We were created for relationships. In the very beginning, God said that everything that He created was good up until the time that man realized that he was alone. Sure, he had a relationship with God, but he didn’t have a relationship with someone like himself the way that the rest of creation had.
In response, God created woman and they multiplied. Mankind now had relationships with one another through family. They were all human, created in God’s image.
When it was just that one man and woman brought together by God, the Father, in marriage, they introduced sin into the world by tag-teaming and choosing their own opinion over God’s clear direction.
Then, they had children. Their first child got jealous of the second child’s offering brought to God and murdered him and then lied to God about it.
So… If stay-at-home orders have caused some conflict at home, but no one has been murdered yet, you’re doing OK, right?
Was this God’s intent and purpose for family? Why did things seem to go so badly so quickly? Did God make a mistake? Is this really God’s picture of a blessed home? What went wrong?
We’re going to start with the understanding that God doesn’t make mistakes. A perfect, sinless, holy God simply could not. In fact, His word states that:
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
God intentionally created humans the same, but different. God had a purpose in creating us equal, but unique. We call these differences our personality.
His intent was that by creating us each with different strengths and weaknesses and abilities and perspectives was that we would form stronger relationships with one another seeing the value and need for each other.
Our differing personalities were intentionally created by God.
After being save and baptized in the Holy Spirit, the disciples’ personalities remained unchanged. Peter was still an outspoken loudmouth who always seemed to find himself in the center of attention, John was still poetic and a bit feminine, Saul was just as fiery, determined, and passionate before and after His transformation.
Although our lives are transformed as we allow the Holy Spirit to work within us, although we certainly do become new creations, this transformation is the result of a movement away from sin and toward God’s plans for our lives.
Our personalities remain the same because they are a part of who God created us to be. They are not sinful, they are wonderful. Our unique differences are designed by God from before we even took our first breath and He celebrates them.
However, we choose to see our differences as points of conflict. We don’t understand somebody, so we think there is something wrong with them. We have different languages or colors of skin and so we think one is better than another. We literally place value through pay rates on different skills or abilities.
Instead of equally valuing everyone and complimenting one another, we allow our differences to cause conflict.
Then, there is the opposite extreme…
Religion has tried for centuries to force everyone into a conformed cookie-cutter shape of a person. You have to look a certain way, talk a certain way, vote a certain way, shop only at certain stores, share the same opinion on certain topics, etc.
True Christianity, however, is all about a relationship with Jesus, the one, true, living God. It is all about embracing the unique person that He created you to be and reaching your full potential in it.
It is about unity expressed through diversity. His word describes it many times as us being many distinct and unique parts all working together to form one body.
The glimpse into Heaven that we receive shows Jesus as the central focus and being surrounded by people from every tribe, nation, and tongue together in unity. Even in Heaven in our glorified bodies, our differences remain. They are not wrong, they are so awesomely right.
This is intended to be what the church looks like today as well. Christianity is all about us standing firmly on the doctrine of God’s word together and having our faith in Jesus in common. It’s about people from every tribe, nation, tongue, culture, economic status, tradition, all coming together in unity while maintaining our diversity.
It’s all about letting arguable matters being let go and acknowledged as exactly that, arguable with no across-the-board standard of right or wrong. It’s about celebrating our diversity and being marked by our love for Jesus and for one another and NOT for what or who we are against.
Unity expressed through diversity, the church, the body of Christ. It’s not a building, it’s a group of individuals who have put their faith in Jesus. It’s a family.
Stuck in our homes together, our differences begin to show themselves a bit more sharply than normal. The highly motivated, goal-driven person gets irritated about the other person waking up late and leaving messes everywhere that they go.
The gamer gets irritated by the sporty one thumping a basketball at the hoop hanging on their door. The musical one trying to record themselves is upset with everyone being so loud. The quiet one is getting angry with the other one being on their phone video chatting constantly with notifications going off every few seconds.
None of these are moral issues. None of these irritations are sin. There is no right or wrong with any of them. These are all simply differences in who each one was created to be.
If God intended for these personality differences to help us value and appreciate one another more, then why do they seem to cause such conflict among us instead?
Let’s start with that question that so easily gets stuck in your head: Who are you? Who, who, who, who?
Meet the Kromers!
Something has always amazed me. Becky and I have three kids. They were all born just a year apart from one another. At one point, they were all in diapers together. They all live and grew up in the same house with the same rules and the same values.
However, from even before the day that they were born, their very distinct and unique personalities revealed themselves. They all live in very similar life circumstances and teachings and disciplines, but they are each radically different from one another by God’s own hand and design.
Nathaniel couldn’t stay still or focused from the time that he could move. Megan was stubbornly strong-willed and refused to turn around in the womb even when it was for her own good. It took several nurses and a doctor to get her turned the right way and a large, elastic band to keep her there. Bethany was calm, compliant, and easy going from the very beginning.
From the womb through to the teen years, their personalities have remained pretty much the same. They were created by God that way and no matter how hard anyone may try to change those things about them, they simply can’t change.
Now there are behaviors and attitudes that have accompanied those personalities that is wrong and did need to change. There are moral rights and wrongs that needed to be corrected. However, their personalities cannot be changed because it is who God created them to be.
Although every human from Adam on is totally and completely unique from one another, still we try to interpret and categorize our personalities. We’ve come up with all kinds of ways to do this.
Are you an introvert or extrovert?
Which “spirit” animal are you?
The Myer-Briggs Type Indicator.
The 9-point Enneagram system.
The Holtzman Inkblot technique.
The four temperaments model.
Far less scientific in their approach are the countless quizzes that float around social media.
Which Bible character are you?
How two-faced are you?
Which Disney princess are you?
What style of music are you?
Which Star Trek captain are you most like?
What 90s sitcom character are you?
Our timelines are full of silly quizzes that reveal something about our personality.
For certain, we can agree with what David wrote as we ponder these things about ourselves:
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
You may sometimes question whether you were wonderfully made or wonder what God was thinking when He made you, but the truth remains the same. You are who you are. Your personality is evidence of God’s amazing handiwork.
Next week, we’re going to learn practical advice from God’s word on how to handle conflict.
Throughout this week, when that person’s phone keeps dinging, when they are eating with their mouth open, when they leave their clothes lay around, when they are breathing too loudly, whatever they are doing to cause you irritation, stop and think.
This isn’t sin. This isn’t a moral issue that needs corrected.
Although I can’t relate to this and it isn’t what I am like, this is the way that God intentionally chose to fearfully and wonderfully make that person.
To be offended and irritated and upset right now is sin for me because I’m opposing God. Literally, I am saying that God is wrong and I know what is better for that person, which of course, is for them to be more like me.
We can’t expect God to bless our home if we continue to divide it and curse it.
In that moment, in your irritated fury with that person, stop. You are likely seeing a weakness in the personality of that person, but even that was intentionally placed there by God.
You likely see it as a weakness in them because it is a strength in you. Instead of reacting in anger and yelling at them or trying to get them to change something that they can’t completely change, try these two things.
1: Accept them for who they are
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
It helps to remind yourself that Jesus accepted you just as you were, even at your worst. And also remind yourself that Jesus still accepts you just as you are even in your weakness and sin.
Accept them in the same way, just as they are. Otherwise, you’ll just continue to be bitter and frustrated and neither of these are fruits of the Holy Spirit within you! Next,
2: Ask yourself what you can do to help them
1 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” 4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(MSG translation: Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!)
7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Accept them as Jesus accepted you and serve them in their weakness even as Jesus did for you. He not only accepted you in your sin, He took your sin on Himself. He didn’t throw your dirty clothes on the floor, but He picked them up, washed them, folded them, and put them away for you anyways.
This may not be raising the dead or healing the blind or casting out demons, but these simple acts of selfless service can still be just as miraculous and life-transforming to those around us. Be like Jesus, do what you can to help by selflessly serving others.
When we do such things with endurance coupled with hope, it results in glory being given to God with one mind and with one voice.
It results in unity expressed through diversity. It expresses the love of God that covers a multitude of sin. It is what Jesus has done for us, so let’s do the same for others. It blesses our homes.
This week, look for the strengths and the good in the personalities of those around you. Laugh more and be irritated less. Accept others as they are and ask yourself what you can do to help them. We keep hearing this phrase, but it is so true. Together, we will get through this and be stronger on the other side of it.
Jesus, “Bless This Home.”