I wrote this a few months ago as a “stand by” post, and it seems fitting to share as we await final tallies of American state and federal elections. Many of us feel passionately about who and what we support. Calls for unity sometimes feel tone deaf when they gloss over what’s at stake. So please don’t misunderstand; I am not treating this flippantly. But bear in mind that plenty of societal strife existed in Bible times. In spite of it, our Lord iterates, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” We do not always reflect that instruction, gravitating to divise social media posts and harsh words spoken against the neighbors we are supposed to love.
Fear and hostility will increase as results come to light. In such a contentitious historical moment, I urge us to cling to faith and be a calm presence. The days I take time to pray and read scripture are my best ones. When I don’t check the news for an hour and instead concentrate on my spirituality, I’m reminded of beauty, hope, love, and mercy.
Will we condescendingly gloat if we’re happy with the outcomes? Will we bitterly lambast our opponents if we don’t get the results we want? Or could we try, with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, to show empathy and compassion, whether we’re ecstatic, devastated, or somewhere between? [It will benefit us to remember that God is still working things to the good, regardless of what happens.] We can be a stumbling block who antagonizes and brings the worst out of others…or we can be a stepping stone who eases tensions and puts people above politics.
Some people in the church are stumbling blocks who cause discord and discourage the furtherance of God’s kingdom, while others are stepping stones who build up the body of Christ. Which one are you? Which one am I?
Some people are nosey and gossip to and about others in the church. Others are petty and cling to real or perceived grievances. Still others are too caught up in a few trees to see the whole forest. Many have not actually allowed their hearts to be transformed and renewed; rather, belief in God is an arbitrary, compartmentalized tradition with no effect on their attitudes and actions.
It’s tragic that these people are spread all throughout churches of every denomination, but alas, the church is made up of human beings…broken, sinful human beings. Even those of us who try NOT to be stumbling blocks have our moments of being selfish, irrational, and quick to condemn. Even those who truly hunger and thirst for righteousness fall short of the glory of God.
For our churches to flourish–to bear fruit that makes disciples and transforms the world–we as individuals and altogether need to be stepping stones instead of stumbling blocks.
People who serve as stepping stones in the church actually try to follow Jesus and be guided by the Holy Spirit. They are peacemakers, not drama starters. They seek God’s heart and look for ways to minister to the needs in their communities. They strive to create a sense of unity, so the body of Christ can function as a whole. They encourage the gifts and the passions of others, wanting them to fully embrace their call to discipleship. They try to squash the issues that get in the way of the real purpose and focus–mission and ministry. They love God and their neighbors.
Though it’s unfortunate so many stumbling blocks are scattered throughout the universal church, we can appreciate this good news: just as many stepping stones make up the church. In fact, Christ as the cornerstone along with His brothers and sisters, the stepping stones, create the foundation that has held and will always hold up the church. Even more inspiring? All the stepping stones are also broken, sinful human beings. But God has made them (us) into new creations.
How can we be stepping stones instead of stumbling blocks?
Thanks for reading! If you are feeling anxious today, I recommend getting alone, closing your eyes, and lifting up prayers aloud. I guarantee it will help. 😉