I recently had to get my second dose of the chicken pox vaccination. The injection caused my left arm to swell painfully to the point that it hurt to move it. Even though the injury was only to my left arm, the rest of my body responded to the pain as well. It probably doesn't surprise you that my feet didn't decide to leave my left arm at home and to go out and party. My right arm put an ice pack on my left arm to relieve the swelling. My brain decided to take some ibuprofen to relieve the pain. Obviously, my whole body suffered and responded to the pain I felt in my left arm.
Scripture compares Christian brothers and sisters to members of a body--Christ's own Body, in fact. Each brother and sister plays a different role--like an arm or a foot--that all put together comprise the whole.
Too often, we don't act like we belong to the same body.
What is our response when our brother or sister is hurting or in need?
What is our response when our brother or sister has been abused or mistreated by others?
What is our response when intervening on behalf of our brother or sister would actually cost us something…maybe even something dear to us?
What is our response when our brother or sister receives good news when we are suffering?
What is our response when or brother or sister receives bad news when we are rejoicing?
What is our response when our brother or sister is struggling with sin... what if he or she is sinning against us?
What do we do when we are in sin? What do we do when we have sinned against our brother and sister?
Are friendships destined to eventually fade away?
Can friendships serve a time and purpose in a season of life and then lose their value?
Does it even matter?
Scripture teaches us that we belong to one another. If we are one Body, then when one part of us suffers, the rest of us suffer. When one part of us rejoices, the rest of us have reason to rejoice also. This is love that is sincere and affection that is genuine. We are not to use people during the times and seasons when they are most convenient to us and then throw them away when they are no longer convenient. True love commits and perseveres--even (especially) through difficult seasons. True love looks to the interests of others. This is the kind of love that Jesus demonstrated to us and it is the kind of love to which Jesus calls us.
I'm learning that this matters more than I ever realized. This kind of love is the gospel love that saved us. It is als the gospel love that we are saved to--we are called to image or imitate the God who loved us sacrificially, steadfastly, and scandalously. This is the gospel. This is worshipping the God of the gospel.
Do we fear man or do we fear God? Do we invest in the unseen—the hope of glory—or do we invest in the standards of this world—worldly success, partiality, our own comfort and dreams?
These Scriptures truly challenge me:
Romans 12:3-13 "For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
1 Cor 12:12-27 "For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. As one body in Christ, my brothers and sisters and I are parts of each other."
Matthew 25:31-40 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’"
Jesus says in John 13:34-35: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
1 Corinthians 13
"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."
Philippians 2: 1-11 "So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Letters to the Editor (Commentaries, Rape on Television, Funerals, Hospitality, etc) - Letters to the editor continue to roll in. My gratitude goes to each reader who takes the time to write in. Here are a few of the most noteworthy I’ve rece...
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