God’s Kingdom in a Group Text

I experience joy and sorrow at the behest of a group text.

After returning from a life-changing mission trip, our team members established a group text to communicate in the days after, sharing verses of scripture and uplifting words, and coordinating post-trip video interviews and fellowship. The watchword was unity – the idea of Christian unity was, and is, sacred. Awe inspiring.

It wasn’t the group text as its own object – that was merely a vessel – but instead the people behind it and their shocking dedication to love and compassion that has changed the entire way I look at the world. I feel as though, through the window of that thread, the mission before it, and the fellowship resulting from it, I’ve witnessed a glimpse of the kingdom of heaven.

But I also have experienced a stark smack back to reality from the Creator of the universe, as He reminded me the reason everyone talks about how much they hate group texts. I witnessed how the incessant drilling of pebbles at that proverbial window can cause hairline fractures in the glass. This is not the way it was intended.

The conversation turns from an Ephesians 4:29-fest of building up one another in the need of the moment to a 2 Timothy 2:16 waste of time that kept everyone’s phones buzzing over the span of four hours. I receive, in the midst of a thoughtless cavalcade, the channeled voice of the Holy Spirit in four capitalized letters.

“STOP”

And suddenly I begin to examine myself once again and the weekend’s sermon makes it’s point known.

Because of a turn of circumstances, I ended up attending service at my church three times over the course of the weekend. I got the opportunity to listen to our pastor preach his message more than once, and each time I continued to take notes on the message with the intent to gain wisdom from it.

This week, we discussed Romans 12:2.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

In his message, our pastor discussed how the word for the idea of “conforming to the pattern” is the singular Greek word suschematizo, from which comes the English word schematic. Likewise, the word transformed is from the same root that we get the word metamorphosis – a fundamental, core change of existence. With this in mind, we could say that Romans 12:2 tells us “not to fashion ourselves according to the flawed blueprint the world has presented us, but instead allow ourselves to be fundamentally changed by the active and working God, so that we can start to understand the bigger picture.”

But of course, if God gives me a hammer, I’m more likely to first hit someone with it than use it to help build up a spiritual house of living stones (1 Peter 2:5).

I read something posted on Facebook (which, as you’ll see, produces a special irony) that read something like, “what would be the hardest thing to explain to someone from the 1950’s who inexplicably showed up today?” The humorous answer? “I have a device in my pocket that can access all collected human knowledge, and I use it to look up pictures of cats and argue with strangers.”

God gives me a phone with the capability of group text, and I can’t seem to contribute in a way that matches his intention. I am thankful for my sister who was bold enough to speak truth with the word “stop.” The world says group texts are a waste of time. Somehow, by the prompting of the Holy Spirit, it became a font of blessing. Why would I allow myself to be conformed to the way the world says things work?

I know maybe it’s a minor thing, blowing up phones with a group text, but after experiencing the kind of unity that can only be produced by the Holy Spirit, I’m wary of the “root of bitterness” the author of Hebrews talks about in 12:15. I’m stoked to continue forward using the tools and resources God has provided in His mercy for His intentions, in order to further the kingdom of God. Brothers and sisters, let’s proceed!

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