I knew they would not be happy to see me, but he didn’t have a ride. When I was asked to give an elderly man in our church a ride to a funeral, I hesitated because of whose funeral it was. The lady who had passed away used to attend my church along with her whole family. I made some decisions regarding their family and the positions they held in the church that they simply did not appreciate. And they made it known to me that they were unhappy. One family member sent me emails calling me the devil and a snake. Another family member would follow me into the restroom before service to chew me out. Let’s just say they were not fans of mine. I had not seen the family for a few years.
The man who asked for a ride had been friends with their family for a long time, long before I arrived at the church. He loved the woman who had passed and though her and I had disagreements, she was a fine lady. I wanted him to be able to go and he did not have anyone else to take him.
When we arrived, I almost stayed in the car because I knew that seeing me might stir up feelings of anger in them and I did not want to do that especially at a funeral. But my friend used a walked and he needed help to get up the steps. We moved toward the door. I was slowly helping him up the steps and the door opened. It was the family member who had sent such nasty emails to me. To his credit, he was polite and said hello to me and my friend. At that point, it would have been very awkward and seemingly rude for me to not go into the service. We sat down in a very small funeral chapel and the service began.
Because the lady had been part of our church, there were many of my friends there who were also part of our church. After the service, we just stood around talking and visiting. I turned and there was the daughter of the lady who had passed. Of all the family, during the issues at the church, she had handled herself well. This is why it surprised me when she said to me, “I am just now getting to the place where I don’t hope for bad things to happen to you.” My flesh jumped to the top of my throat ready to release a flood of emotions out of the hurt inflicted on my family and I by the way the family had reacted to my decisions. My emotions were hot with anger and hurt. Then the ears of my heart heard the sweetness of the Holy Spirit saying to me, “Love her. She is my child.” It was just a split second, but I had an entire conversation with the Lord in my spirit. I said to Him, “She doesn’t love me.” To which He responded, “Do you need her to love you with all the love I have poured out into your life?”
I have to be honest. I didn’t like His question. He was obviously right. I didn’t need her to love me. And the vengeance my flesh wanted to release was utterly sinful and I knew it. I had a choice. I smiled at her. I reached out and gave her a hug. Oh…don’t start thinking good thoughts about me that I responded this way. Because I wanted to unleash Hell in that moment. I wanted to let her have it. It was the Holy Spirit alive in me who hugged her. All I did was choose to let the Holy Spirit rule instead of my own spirit. My sinfulness was fully revealed, and the purity of God’s love was also revealed. To God be the glory for I am a sinful man.
Jesus prayed that we would be one as He and the Father are one. The unity of the Trinity is magnificent, and He desires for us to be united to Him just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are united. What a wonderful thing! When we look at the unity of the Trinity, we have to remember that though one God, He is made up of three separate entities. They each have their own thoughts and emotions, even in their unity. And within the Trinity we see unity through submission. God the Father, set forth the plans. Jesus, the Son submits to the will of the Father. He says, “Not my will, but thine be done” (Luke 22:42). And the Holy Spirit remains quiet speaking on what He hears from Jesus, the Son. The Bible says God, the Holy Spirit will not speak on His own, but only what He hears from the Son (John 16:13). We cannot expect to be in complete unity with one another and with the Lord unless we seek the same spirit of submission we see in the Trinity.
Wives are called to submit to their husbands. Children are to submit to their parents. Fathers are to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet the Bible also says that we are to submit one to another (Ephesians 5:21). The purpose of submission is to maintain peace and unity. The Holy Spirit is able to work when there is unity (Ephesians 4:3). Don’t get me wrong. The Lord is big on us submitting to our authorities, but in times when we are the authority and someone bucks that authority be it an employee, a church member, a spouse, a child, we are to respond in the spirit of submission. This does not mean that we let those under our authority run all over us. We still maintain the standards, rules, policies, etc. However the word ‘submit’ means ‘to withdraw.’ If I am doing to respond to someone under my authority who is expressing rebellion against me, I need to do it with a spirit of withdraw not escalation. When we respond by escalating negative emotions as I so wanted to do at this funeral home, we break unity in the body and we break our unity with the Lord.
God is love. He is Trinitarian. Within Himself, He sets the example of love. He is the source of love as we have been discussing all this week. But we also see that this love that produces unity is maintained in part through mutual submission. We must submit to our authorities. And when those under our authority refuse to submit, we must respond with a gentle answer and resist the temptation to escalate the situation. This is so hard to do, so hard. But the Lord has given us His Holy Spirit to help us.
Let us strive to honor the Lord, keeping unity with Him, but submitting one to another. This is what the Trinity of God teaches us to do and strengthens us to accomplish. Let us love one another.