Between fishing and camping, I have found the time to read some great books recently. One has been helpful — Billy Graham’s “The Journey,” about our journey or walk with Christ. And in particular, one chapter, “When Others Disappoint,” has been meaningful to me, especially during this time of national elections.
He writes: “You’ve heard it many times, and may even have said it yourself: Life would be great if it weren’t for other people. No area of human life is so full of difficulties and heartaches as relationships. People can be selfless and kind, of course, but they can also be difficult, stubborn, ego-driven, thoughtless, mean, selfish, manipulative, etc. And the problem isn’t just other people; it’s also ourselves.
So why can’t we seem to get along with each other? One reason is people from different cultures or social backgrounds often clash, because they think everyone should be the way they are. Behind this, however, is a deeper problem: We each want our own way. ‘If that person would just do things my way,’ we say to ourselves, ‘we could get along!’ Unfortunately the other person is probably thinking the same about us — and that leads to conflict.
Our deepest problems are within ourselves — within our own hearts and minds — and until we confront them and seek God’s help to change us, we’ll never completely solve them. Christians aren’t immune from these conflicts. Our old sinful nature still lives within us and constantly tries to assert itself. In addition, Satan will do everything he can to divide Christians and destroy our witness. Only the Holy Spirit can subdue our old nature and overcome it with God’s love, which is the answer to all of our problems.
How does this become a reality? Well, it doesn’t just happen by accident or by gritting our teeth and hoping somehow we can make ourselves love others. It happens only as we grow closer to Christ and submit our lives to Him, allowing the Holy Spirit to cleanse and change us.
Submission to Christ is the answer. Have I submitted my life to Christ? Every part of my life? Or am I holding out on a few items? If I truly want to love my neighbor, I need to remember what the Bible says: “The fruit of the Spirit is love,” (Galatians 5:22).
Pastor Mark E. Frady is assisting minister of Fountainhead Foursquare Church, 3690 Highway 395, Carson City.