Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:12-15 (NIV)
Now, more than any other time in our country’s history there is a need for unity. Political and social factions have pulled us apart and threaten the very core of our existence. For the church, the same is true. The unbelieving world needs to see modeled true faith, love, and charity from a united body of committed followers of Jesus Christ…the church. Words alone will not suffice. Our attitude and actions must embody the character of Christ, if we expect to break the bondage that holds our nation captive.
The church is family and should act as such. I recall an incident as a child that as I look back upon it now, I chuckle, but I think it speaks to how we should treat each other in the fellowship of faith. I have two older brothers: one ten years older and one fourteen years older than me. The brother, ten years my elder, often would correct me and even spanked me on occasion. One of those times my cousins from Ohio were visiting, all of whom were several years older than me. I don’t recall what I did, but my brother spanked me in front of my relatives. I stormed to my room and wrote him a letter, came back to the living room, and threw it in his lap, then stomped off to my bedroom only to hear howling laughter from my brother and cousins. I could not understand how they could laugh at my fiercely intense message. How dare they laugh at what I had written. Then the words they read aloud sunk in. “Dear Jerry. I hate you! Love, Keith.”
My words were a contradiction of emotions. They probably were truer than I wanted to admit. At that moment however I was quite mad with my brother for his corporal punishment, though probably deserved, and embarrassment had gotten the best of me. I wanted him to know how mad I was with his insufferable actions. My pride was hurt! Well, maybe not just my pride!
As I have reflected on this incident through the years, it has brought many cackles of laughter each time it is retold. However, there is a deep truth within it. We were family. I was mad at my brother and at that moment in time (as only a 7-year-old can fully understand) I hated him, yet not really. I loved him. The slip of the pen told more truth than the fury of my emotional state. Family gets mad at each other. We pout, we fuss, we storm off to our bedrooms but in the end, we love each other.
The same should be true for the church. We have moments when someone says or does something that pushes us out of our comfort zone or just plain makes us mad. It is in those times we need to cool down, pray, reflect, and embrace our oneness in Christ. After prayer and reflection, we may need to go to the individual to whom our grievance is directed, and in love share our concerns and work for mutual satisfaction. Above all we should strive for unity in the body.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. I Peter 4: 8-10 (NIV)
Love…the key to unity. As we, the church of Jesus Christ, love each other we point a lost world to a Savior we all desperately need!
In His Love,