by Rachal Carr
I grew up with a younger brother, but no sisters. One of the joys of being a mom has been watching my three girls grow as sisters. The ways they encourage, connect, laugh (and yes, even disagree); their bond is a picture to me of what we can look like as sisters in Christ.
Many of our Bible studies and small groups kicked off Spring Session last week. Below are a few of the reflections I shared as we took a look at where we are and where we are heading. We're better together and we need the unbreakable bond as sisters in Christ.
In this past year babies have been born, jobs and schedules upended, we've navigated school in ways we didn't ever imagine, life is different for many of us, our families, friends, "normal" may look different than they did last yet.
Let's take a minute to acknowledge and name where we might find ourselves. Some of us today feel lonely, anxious, maybe unsettled or angry; our real life, well, it's just hard and relentless, and there are still so many unknowns. We need one another to remind us of the truth that God hasn't left us alone. He alone is fully Sovereign; nothing escapes His plan.
Others of us are discouraged, the grief is thick or our hearts are broken or jaded. We need each other to remind us of God's goodness, to sit patiently with us in our honest questions, and pray with us when we don't have words.
And some of us, well, we've been satisfied with lesser things. We have allowed the distractions of this world, even the good ones, to sideline us. We need our sisters to remind us of our mission and to call us up to more in Jesus.
And hopefully a lot of us are so full of joy today - it's so fun to see each other, to gather, to finally feel a little bit like normal! We get to celebrate and encourage each other in these joys!
Wherever you find yourself, know that you are so valued, by God and by us!
When we were working on ministry plans last spring, there was a question about our vision - What God-given dreams, grass-root level movements of God, and/or God-sized risks are you being led to implement? And here's what we wrote for our Women's Ministry plan vision:
Cultivate unity by keeping our eyes on Jesus, evidenced by our humility to listen to and honor one another, serve whole-heartedly and live sacrificially with an eternal mindset.
While we were just starting to grasp that the year would be hard, we really had no idea of all the hard that was coming our way - it clearly was a God-given dream, an audacious dream to build unity in the midst of conflict, dissension and discouragement. But God, but God.
There are so very many verses on unity that Jesus prays.
I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word. May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me, so that they may be made completely one, that the world may know you have sent me and have loved them as you have loved me. - John 17:20-23
We should note that Jesus is praying for you and me here - as those who have believed in Him through the testimony of other disciples before us. Jesus is calling us to the depth of unity that He experiences with the Father and Holy Spirit.
Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. - Ephesians 4:1-3
The unity is only possible through the Spirit, and we are called to make every effort to keep it.
What if we were known not by uniformity (sameness), which is possible all on our own power, and actually might be what others would expect, but instead our trademark is audacious unity that can't be explained apart from the work of God?
What do we do?
- We remember who we are and whose we are - that for all who are in Christ Jesus we are chosen, adopted, loved, accepted, secure, forgiven, heirs - and none of those promises are of our own doing; we didn't deserve any of them, and yet we can stand firmly upon them.
- We walk in humility, learning to listen to and honor one another. We pray, encourage, and see each other not by our roles, titles, or performance, but as image bearers of a Holy, Loving God. We choose to listen first, to lay aside our personal preferences, to use our gifts to build each other up. We are patient and serve each other in love.
- We help each other remember that we are living for eternity, not for Netflix, newsfeeds, or whatever the latest issue is on social media. We remember that the main things are the main things: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one hope, one body.
Jesus prayed for us that we may be one so that the world may believe. Unity authenticates Jesus' mission.
Cultivating (building) unity only happens as we are filled with the Holy Spirit, where we keep our eyes on Jesus and not on temporary things. So very many things can divide us; we can easily look just like those who do not know Jesus as Lord. But may that not be so. May we make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit, and in doing so, may many more women (and men and children) come to Jesus. Keep pressing on, my friends. God is good, all the time.
Let's pray these words from James 3:17-20. Gracious, Sovereign Lord, thank you for Your wisdom, the wisdom from above, that is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere, and that a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. May we seek your wisdom and walk in your love with our sisters this day. Amen.
We would love to have you join us this spring for Bible study! Whatever your age or stage of life, whether you’re new to Bible study or you’ve been learning for years, there’s a group for you to come connect and learn together as sisters in Christ.