By Captain Elizabeth Gross
Divisional CCM Secretary & SA Justice Representative, California South Division
Read 1 Corinthians 1:9, John 17:23 and Acts 4:32-35
To sum up the meaning of life in one sentence would be a feat. Theologians and intellectuals have tried and come close. Would you mind if I take a shot at it?
Being together, life is about being together.
The Covid-19 Pandemic has been challenging particularly because it drove us into isolation. We have been afraid to meet together because doing so could cause us or a loved one to contract a deadly virus. We have been kept from fellowship, sharing meals, celebrations and even going to church. As humans, we want to be together but this crisis has pulled us apart.
Politics are tough because, more often than not, they divide us instead of bringing us together. Republican Christians can’t understand how others of their faith can be Democrats, and visa versa. We want to be together, but different values, worldviews and the news stations we listen to often pull us apart.
The race crisis in our nation is so hard because there is a lot still wrong. The color of our skin, our ethnicity, our background, our worldview, our level of privilege, our life experiences, our hurts and what we were taught can all make it hard for us to get along, to really hear one another and know how to solve problems. Many of us don’t know how to or simply refuse to step into another’s shoes. We want to be together but our differences, ignorance, sin and pain pull us apart.
Marriage and relationships bring us the highest joys and the deepest pains in life. We all desire intimacy and love but relationships can end quickly and leave us in despairing hurt. A person we were once deeply close to can quickly become unsafe emotionally, physically or relationally. The person we wanted to spend our whole life with or who we called our “best friend” can soon become the person that we pray we never see again. Having hard conversations, loving, maintaining healthy boundaries, commitment, forgiveness and vulnerability often seem impossible. We want to be together, but our fears, brokenness and self-centeredness pull us apart.
Church is a struggle because sin and imperfections, both corporately and individually, get in the way of what Jesus has in mind for His Church. We are taught these days to distrust leadership and institutions. It’s easier to move on to the next congregation instead of hunkering down for the long haul of the vulnerable, inter-dependent life of a disciple. We want to be together but it’s hard to stay consistent, to work through issues, to trust ourselves and trust others.
A lack of being together causes so many ills. Isolation and lack of physical touch for babies can cause lifelong, often irreversible damage. In children, teens and adults it causes issues of self-esteem, self-worth, identify, behavioral issues, depression, fear, anxiety, addictions, mental health struggles and for some, suicide.
BUT! Life is about being together and IT IS still possible. We can be together with God, with others and even at peace with our own souls.
It’s true, we do have an enemy, a fallen world and human sin that make “being together” hard. Maybe you were never taught how to do it. Possibly you’ve seen few good examples. Perhaps you’ve tried your best but failed so you find that hiding out on the weekends and binging Netflix is the better option. Don’t despair my sister. God has made a way, through Christ, for us to win the battle of “being together.” Christ made a way for us to be with Him, with each other and with ourselves. Grace makes being together possible.
“Grace, grace, God’s grace” is a hymn by Julia H. Johnston that I sang growing up. My session name in seminary at Crestmont College was “Heralds of Grace.” A.W. Tozer said, “Abounding sin is the terror of the world, but abounding grace is the hope of mankind.” Ephesians 2:8-9 reads, “for by grace you have been saved through faith” (ESV). We are saved by grace. But not just saved for the next life – saved for this life, for a full life, a life of meaning, a life of being together with God, others and ourselves. If you are a Christian, God’s grace is yours. You have it and you have all that you need for today.
There’s no other way I know to have a life full of meaning than to live being together through grace. Don’t give up. Keep being together and working to make that happen. Keep educating yourself and honing your relationship skills. Go to counseling and listen to those podcasts. Keep pushing through the mess and throwing off everything that hinders. Don’t settle for a “being together” that is shallow and surface level. Go for intimacy, for relationship, for love, for acceptance, for belonging, for daring communication, for being fully present, for love that covers sin, for healthy boundaries, for vulnerability, for authentic connection and for courageously being together. Accept and give grace that covers mistakes, grace that forgives, grace that changes us and helps us do better next time.
Lord, while many things pull us apart, pull us together to relationship, unity and fellowship through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Your faithfulness, keep us in fellowship with Jesus and His Bride (the Church). May our lives be marked by great grace and great relationships. Amen.
Note: If you are not familiar with the hymn, “Grace, grace, God’s grace,” listen to this rendition: CLICK HERE