” . . . preserve the unity . . .”

“I urge you, then—I who am a prisoner because I serve the Lord: live a life that measures up to the standard God set when he called you. Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another.  Do your best to preserve the unity which the Spirit gives by means of the peace that binds you together.  There is one body and one Spirit, just as there is one hope to which God has called you.  There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism;  there is one God and Father of all people, who is Lord of all, works through all, and is in all.” (Ephesians 4:1-6)

Palm trees don’t grow in West Virginia.  I’ve actually seen people try to grow palm trees near the coast in Virginia, but they have to wrap them in plastic to help the trees survive the winters.  No, palm trees don’t grow in West Virginia, but they do grow in Florida.  The palm trees in the photo graced the grounds of the hotel we occupied last week during the gathering of United Methodist youth and adults from all over the country.  The event was called, “YOUTH 2015.”

I discovered in college that plants can actually be pretty specific about the locations where they will thrive.  In one college biology class we did a survey of a hillside to determine the kinds of plants that grew as we trekked from bottom to top.  Many of the plants grew only at certain altitudes.  Some liked the bottom of the hill, while others preferred the top.  When Patti and I were traveling in Arizona a few years ago we could get a sense of our elevation by the presence or absence of the saguaro cacti (the tall cacti with “arms”).

Even animals follow similar rules of geography and climate.  Most animals have pretty narrowly defined geographical boundaries where they can survive.  When you stop to think about it, humans are probably at the top of the list for their ability to adapt.  We have the ability to survive in almost any location and climate given the right clothes and equipment.  That’s pretty amazing when you stop to think about it.  Actually, I call it another one of the miracles God designed into our creation.  If we’re so good at adapting to our climate and geography, then why do we have so much difficulty adapting to the beliefs and opinions of one another?  God has given us the miracle of exploration, experimentation, and reasoning to be able to figure out how to live in the harshest of physical climates.  Yet, we forget that God has also given us the miracle of divine love to help us live in difficult emotional times and environments.  We know to put on more clothes if we travel from Florida to West Virginia in the dead of winter.  Why don’t we stop to put on more of God’s love when we find ourselves traveling in difficult conflicts and emotional situations?

I know there are many today taking a stand on issues like marriage.  Taking a stand can be important, but it seems to me that the true measure and witness of our faith is how we can stand together in spite of our different stands.  I believe that’s what the Apostle Paul was urging in his letter to the people of Ephesus when he said, Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another.  Do your best to preserve the unity which the Spirit gives by means of the peace that binds you together.”  Through God’s divine love in Christ we have been given the ability to adapt and live together in peace.  I pray that God will help me pile on more divine love when necessary to live with others with whom I disagree.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,


Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church

Cross Lanes, West Virginia

PS — Welcome to all of you who signed up to receive “Wednesday Wonderings” at YOUTH 2015 last week in Orlando.  If you’re a youth, please do me a favor and show this email to your parents.  It’s always important your parents know that an adult is sending you messages.

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit new book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at and
Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”

~ by revgenelson on July 1, 2015.

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