Christians are not distinguished from others by our faith. Faith can be found throughout a variety of religious sects. Rather, God intended for us to stand out to this struggling world by our love.
The deep and powerful commandment of the Lord to "love one another" has often been interpreted in one of two ways: either it's the "love is patient, love is kind" crowd who believe that we must be soft toward each other regardless of circumstance or the "missions and martyrs" contingent who believe that Jesus' love is best displayed through vaulting into perilous conditions with a willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Both are correct. However, they fail to address the broad spectrum in between. Our daily interaction toward one another may not be as "spiritually-glamorous" as these two extremes, but it is our conduct in this middle ground which shapes our Christian character. Particularly for leaders.
As Jesus and his disciples traveled together along dusty roads and desert landscapes, Jesus shared, taught, befriended, and rebuked them.
Sometimes his words were hard to hear, but they were never said without that undercurrent of love which permeated our Lord's ministry like the scent of clean air just after a rainstorm.
It was this kind of challenge that he presented to me regarding the women's ministry team. They had peeled back the ministry's layers to reveal the pride-inflicted wounds beneath and begin the process of healing. Feelings of relief were so overwhelming among them that, like a girl with a crush on the bad boy in class, they were interpreting their emotions as the real deal.
Up to this point, I had restrained my female tendencies and kept these women at arm's length. In order to get them to the place where they were truly ready to tackle the ministry once more, God was now calling me to show them the "dust in your sandals" kind of love that Jesus displayed to his disciples.
Back in the Old Testament, the prophet Ezekiel had a very powerful and unsettling vision in spiritual realms. During part of this vision, four creatures were revealed to him. The Bible describes their strange faces, a wheel, many eyes and other bizarre images that would have most of us booking an appointment with the nearest psychiatrist. As it was, the vision was so shocking that an "overwhelmed" Ezekiel barely moved for seven days (Ezekiel 3:15).
Of the many strange things described in this vision, one of the most compelling for me was the connection between these four creatures. They each had four wings, two of which touched the wings of the others. So how could they possibly move around while all being joined at the wing? The Bible states: