Peace and love

October 17, 2010

It's hard to write when you don't feel like you have anything interesting to say. A specific issue has been weighing pretty heavily on my heart lately, however, so maybe I'll have some semi-important things to say about it.

Loving people has never been a strong suit of mine. I just have a naturally impatient mind, one quick to make judgments and react in mean and entitled ways. I really don't mean to, and I'm certainly working on it because I know love is supposed to be an important part of being a Christian. I am good at loving my friends and family, but who isn't really? As Jesus said, "even the tax collectors do that" (Matthew 5:46). God calls us to love everybody, and I struggle with this. I only mention this to clarify that when I say we should love each other, I am not speaking from a place of strength, but rather of weakness. It always annoys me when people who don't struggle with certain things tell me matter-of-factly to be better at them. It's like a runner saying, "Well why don't you just be in better shape Jordan?" I prefer to talk about those issues with people who can invite me to grow with them. So here it is world, will you join me in growing toward a life filled with love the way God sees love?

The community of Christian believers is referred to as a body time and time again in the scriptures (Ephesians 4:12, Colossians 1:24, 1 Corinthians 12:27). Christians aren't just friends, Christians aren't just siblings, Christians are part of the same body, with Christ at the head.

What does this mean when we have conflicts between Christians? Well what would it mean if your two feet were heading in different directions? What would it mean if your two eyes couldn't agree on what to look at? The scriptures refer to us as a body because the church was formed to accomplish God's will. Sure we all have individual relationships with God, but collectively we can accomplish a greater purpose, the greatest purpose, God's purpose. We always expect God to perform miracles, totally taking for granted the fact that God created us to accomplish miracles by living in unity with one another. Unity is a huge thing with God, because a body requires unity to function. How well can an arm work when it's severed from its body? In the same way, we can live out the miraculous when we focus not only on our vertical relationship with God, but also our horizontal relationships with one another.

Conflict between our brothers and sisters in Christ is no less serious than a body whose pieces can't work together. The church will be as useless as a paralyzed body without peace and love between all Christians. The enemy revels in the notion that God's people hold grudges against one another and can't really forgive each other. I'm afraid I see an epidemic of this among my Christian friends, and in my own heart as well. We justify our dislike for each other by repeating the flaws and transgressions of others in our heads. We claim we still love each other but then contaminate said love with extreme dislike. We must forgive each other. We must let our hearts mend the way cuts and bruises on a body must heal. There is absolutely no excuse to be on bad terms with another part of the body of Christ, assuming we all want to accomplish the will of Jesus here on earth. If not, then what does our faith mean to us? If we are seeking first the kingdom of God, as He commands us (Matthew 6:33), then peace within the body has to be of greater priority to us than our own personal grudges.

One thing I have to say to those who say they can love people without liking people, I ask you to prove it. Love with all your heart and I'll bet the liking part will follow close behind. Every single person who professes faith in Christ is called to love every other Christian (and non-Christian, a topic for another day). The world will know we are Christians by how selflessly we love each other (John 13:35). 

We are all flawed. We all make mistakes. Just because we're Christians doesn't mean we treat each other perfectly. Oftentimes the exact opposite is true. If we know what it's like to wrong others, then why can't we forgive others when they wrong us? What keeps us hating our brothers and sisters for the things they do wrong? I believe it is primarily a result of our own pride, and secondly I believe we as believers suffer attacks from the snake in the grass who doesn't want God's kingdom "on earth as it is in heaven."

The beginning and end of it is that our selfish grudges, no matter how justified, get in the way of God's plan. I don't know about you, but I wanna be on the side of God's plan. The enemy is absolutely terrified of a body of believers functioning in total unity. Such a body would end the sex trafficking of children, stop condemning teenage mothers and start caring for them, stop judging, and show all those who don't know Christ He IS love.

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.

1 Corinthians 1:10 


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