Cancel culture

I’ve heard it called cancel culture. This idea we shouldn’t have to put up with other people. We can either leave when someone hurts us, annoys us, disagrees with us or doesn’t like us, or make them leave. Today’s society has made it exceptionally easy and justified to just walk away from people. 
Kids walk away from parents, parents walk away from kids, husbands walk away from wives, wives walk away from husbands, friends walk away from friends, sisters from sisters, brothers from brothers, etc. Every kind of relationship in life has been affected it seems by this cancel culture. If we don’t get what we want from someone, if they are no longer a value to us, they no longer make us feel good, we just cancel them from our lives. Easy as that. 
In today’s society we cancel anyone who doesn’t feel good and  hold onto those who do. We are always talking of what’s fair, what we do and don’t deserve, whether or not it’s worth our time, etc. Etc.
We are in charge of our lives and our own happiness, we are kings and queens of our own domains. It’s our “God given right to be happy and emotionally sound and we will make sure we exercise our rights. 
You know what the problem is with this? 
We never learn and we never grow. When we get to be kings and queens or else, we never learn what true selflessness is. We never learn to share even when it hurts, we never learn the value of those who don’t think like us, act like us, smell like us, eat like us, work like us, cry like us, laugh like us. Because we get to decide and we have the option to leave, because there’s always a back door.
We learn to migrate toward like-minded people and quite comfortably go through only surface changes. We never allow ourselves to be refined by the fire because the first sign of sweat we run to the air conditioner. 
All of life is for the most part,  to our standards.  What we think, every single situation is judged by our standard beliefs. Right wrong, clean dirty, good bad, all set according to us. If we don’t like, we leave if they won’t, then they can get out. 
We never have to go through the uncomfortable, embarrassing, unjust, lessons meant to break down our self-righteous, worldly attitudes that in no way resemble Jesus no matter what disguise we present them with. We may struggle all types of hurt, heart ache, pain, but not fire. 
We’re not teachable because we are the teacher, we already mastered how we like things to go in our life, now all that’s left is making sure others fall in line. If they choose to go at things different, than they are choosing to go at them alone.
There is nothing for us to learn really, as we are already us. When given spiritual lessons through reading His word or hearing it preached, our mind swiftly recalls those in our life who would benefit from hearing this message. We get so busy helping others who we know need the teaching we never have time to reflect on ourselves and where we might be in need of the lesson. 
When we give, its with a price tag because if anyone we are giving to steps out of line according to our standard of measure, then they get cut off, left out, excused from receiving from us until they decide to conform or until they can convince us of their reasoning or worthiness. 
We don’t always notice that we are actually taking part in this worldly “cancel culture.”
Luke 6:32-36 NLT — “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.
Jesus didn’t mandate for us to love the lovely, He didn’t say to love those we get along with, those we call family and friends, no He said to love those who are unlovable. We are to love those who are ugly to us. Those who put us in prison, that talk bad about us, tell lies about us, who steal from us, curse us, etc etc. Jesus said love not cancel. Not stay away from, ignore, leave, reject, gossip about, abandon etc. 
The word tells us
Matthew 18:15-17 NLT — “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.
Notice hear what it actually tells us,
1. Try privately to go and work it out. Why is this do you suppose? Could it be we might be wrong also? Maybe to save us the embarrassment of finding out our perception was wrong and therefore because we sought out an end to the division privately, we now can still hold our head up. We are not found to be wrong in front of others.
2. We are told bring two or three with us to seek an end to the problem. What for? Well it continues and says so we have witnesses to back up what our intentions were and theirs. So if both sides think that they’re correct, we bring witnesses in to hear both sides and they can help us determine if either side is correct and help both sides see where we might be wrong or right.
3. Now if none of that works to bring reconciliation between the two of us, as we are both pieces of the body of Christ, then that’s when you take it to the church.  Our witnesses then are also question by the church, those ones that try to help us reconcile already. Then the church decides, and what the church decides is final.  If either of us don’t like the decision, we have the option of leaving. But see at this point if we leave, we are leaving wrong.  We are leaving prideful, self-righteous, arrogant, unapproachable.  So we leave of our own free will because we will not listen to any reasoning at all. Because we would not see reason, because we would not put aside our pride, our anger, and hurt to stay apart of the whole, we lose the whole thing, the entire church. 
See in all three steps one thing it does not say is that we have a right to excommunicate anybody without going through these three steps first. Here in today’s society we cancel people left and right.  So much hurt around the world from abandonment.   Abandoned by Christians.  Nice twist of the devil don’t you think. 
The Body of Christ has many parts, each unique in it’s own purpose and place. Each part needs all the other parts in order to function ultimately. When we want things our own way, when we act self-righteous, in self-pity, in charge, in judgment, we are trying to change someone from what God made to our ideal of who they should be.  We often use scripture to justify our actions yet scripture tells us (love)
1 Corinthians 13:1-8 NLT — If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!
To forgive but don’t forget, is keeping record of wrongs. You know what that bitterness toward the one we won’t forget their wrongs causes? Deep wounds! Deep deep wounds in us and the one we kept record against. It also causes stagnation in spiritual growth, slow changes, lack of faith, makes people question their value, their worth. Any changes God may be making in the person we have kept record on, won’t be noticed or believed. Because we won’t let go of the past, we miss the blessing our prayers may be producing. We may be productive in our praying for them but not in watering the sprout God started from the seeds due to our prayers. Our bitterness can stunt their growth as well as our own.
Jesus never said love if they don’t make you mad, if they are respectful, if they are a brown-noser, if they never steal from you, if they follow your rules, if you have compatible personalities, if they can give you what you want, if they call you and make you feel wanted, if they act according to what society tells us isn’t crazy, no…. He leaves no room for argument on this very subject as He foreknew what was coming and all the excuses we might come up with to justify our actions against His love mandate. Excuses for our wrong, hidden beneath the, they did to me so I couldn’t help it. 
Wake up humans!!! We do not fight against flesh and blood …
Ephesians 6:10-18 NLT — A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
Make sure who’s side your on! The end is inevitable and coming quick. God is about love in the midst of the worst storms, the enemy is about hurt feelings and bitterness from unforgiving hearts causing division and isolation. This is not a no big deal, not my problem kind of war. No, it sure is your problem because if you don’t pick a side and give it all you got, the enemy will take you over and use you as his weapon against God’s true people.
We need to get far far away from this cancel culture and look inside ourselves, at what needs to change within us, to bring about unity not division.
The people that are hard for us to get along with, are not meant to cancel out of our lives. They are there to help mold and shape us into our true selves. They give our faith a workout, to strengthen us for battles yet to come. We do ourselves a huge disservice when we decide to cancel them, abandon them, ignore them, etc. We are telling God, He made a mistake so we have to protect ourselves. God knows exactly what He is doing and the answer to our prayers may be in the person we chose to reject and in so doing decided against having faith in God’s ability to work in our lives. 
Don’t cancel anyone friends, it’s a trick of the enemy and isn’t a good trap to get stuck in. When you forgive, yes forget, unless you would rather that Father God remember your sins against Him. Choose Love always, no matter what’s done to you, for your sacrifice is where true courage and strength are found, and what All of Heaven is cheering for. 
Until next time may God bless you and keep you as you seek Him with your whole heart. 



Puzzle pieces

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about puzzles. More specifically a 40,000 piece puzzle that is the Guinness book of world records largest puzzle in the world. This puzzle is the largest in both the amount of pieces and it’s overall size. The part of this puzzle that has me thinking though, is the number of pieces. 40,000 pieces needing to find their place in the big picture.

With that many pieces one might entertain the thought that one or two pieces aren’t such a big deal if they happened to go missing.. keeping track of 40,000 pieces sounds almost overtime payish.

One piece of a puzzle won’t even give someone an idea of what the picture will be once all the pieces are put together.  Having just one piece of the whole puzzle is useless really as it cannot be the whole puzzle even if it wanted to be.  That piece has its one place within the whole, where it is vital to the whole.  If that one piece decided to go it’s own way getting lost, thinking it’s no big deal or unimportant, would ruin the masterpiece for without it the whole would be void in the spot that piece was to take up. Furthermore that piece is not replaceable either. No other piece can or will fit into it’s rightful place.

As I ponder this I am drawn to the idea, what if life was like this. What if God has this masterpiece in mind as He creates each and every piece to fit together, each having it’s own unique shape and each being equally important to the finished project. He’s skillfully and masterfully knit every single human together while in the womb, giving to each a uniqueness that only they can contribute and nobody can take the place of.

We are all just pieces to the whole puzzle. We are meant to fit together, each in our own unique way.

This is not really a new thought, in scripture Paul puts it this way,

1 Corinthians 12:14-27 NLT — Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

Selfishness, self-pity, self-righteousness, all focus on self.  So long as the focus is on self, it cannot also be on service.

The world has made popular the idea that we should be focused on self, like self improvement, self-confidence, self-help, self-esteem, self-acceptance, self-love, etc. All examples of the worldly idea that we need to focus on ourselves.

All around us are the messages, feeding into our minds and hearts, causing us to believe this concentration on self is right.   We are all searching for inner peace, love, and a place to just rest. When focus is on self, no matter what side of the scale, from self-pity to self-righteousness, we are in a constant state of restlessness, anxiety, always standing ready to defend.  We build up walls inside ourselves as part of our defense readiness, having no idea, the walls, once built, won’t allow the bad in, but won’t allow the good in either.   We starve ourselves of the very thing we are seeking, all because we have given into the feel-good, worldly, idea that we should concentrate on ourselves.

The problem is, we were not created for this.   Self, is lonely, isolating, non-community, it’s all take and little to no give.  We were created in the image of  All Mighty God, to be parts of a whole, to fit like puzzle pieces together.  

The enemy doesn’t want us to know we are but one simple piece.  He wants to destroy the puzzle, of course he will most deceptively, by the use of our emotions and lack of true wisdom, give us every reason to continue believing we, individually, are the whole.

We seem to all try to fit ourselves into spots that make us like those we admire or like those we respect. We work hard to prove ourselves worthy of the spots we desire to fit into. The truth is only one might actually fit in that spot. The rest are faking, camouflaged, mimicking, etc.

We all go through this life trying to find our place, a place with people like us, where we feel like we fit in. We look for like-mindedness, hobbies in common, similar interests and ways of living.

We then pass judgement in one form or another upon those who are not living up to our standards. Some may try to use religion or Christian principles as justification for being able to point out wrong doing in others.

We try to hide our true selves just in case we won’t be accepted.

The truth is instead of searching for what makes us the same as, or at least makes us resemble others, we should search for what makes us unique, different, special. We should be looking for our place in the big picture. At the same time we should be encouraging others to find their uniqueness also.

Instead of shunning people that may be different we should be accepting, learning, encouraging, celebrating what makes us individuals.

If we are to mimic Jesus, we need to learn how to serve and accept others regardless of what society and the world try to tell us.

We are all just one piece to the whole puzzle. All equal in significance, all having our own special, uniqueness to contribute to the whole.

Find your unique, be it, own it, show it off because you are special, important, fearfully and wonderfully made, most of all, you are dearly loved by your Creator!

Until next time may God bless you and keep you as you seek Him with your whole heart.