Sometimes I am confused, perplexed, and hurt by relationships in the Body of Christ. The Word puts such an emphasis on love and unity in the Body of Christ--the Bride who Jesus has randsomed and is redeeming. And yet, the Body of Christ is such a mess in so many ways. I know that I am a mess too and part of the problem as a sinner who is too often proud, judgmental, lazy, self-interested, selfish, naive and foolishly too quick to react sometimes, etc (there are lots more to add to this list). I understand why there is conflict in the Body of Christ--as we all sin against each other. In my head, I know I should not be surprised to see these ugly things in myself and in the Body of Christ, but the damage caused by these messy interactions does cause pain that spins me around sometimes.
I have a hard time understanding why brothers and sisters in Christ would not try to resolve and persevere through conflict, not compromising on Biblical truth, but also not compromising on Biblical love. I don't understand how there could be burned bridges in the Body of Christ. I don't understand how friendships could end so easily in the Body of Christ when our lives are built on the hope of eternal life together with God. In this way, it seems that the Body of Christ does not look so different from the rest of the world who has not encountered Jesus' life changing love.
When I feel discouraged, hurt, depressed and spun around about this, I love to go to Romans 12 for perspective. Jesus, help us live and love like this--in this radical way!! Let us sense the weightiness of the fact that we are one body in you and that we are individually members of one another! Help me to have a humble, servant heart that sincerely loves through conflict and hurt by your Spirit! Give me a perspective to see beyond the standards of this world, so that I would not be conformed to the standards of the world, but rather that I would be renewed in your way and standards! Help me to know the difference between your way and worldliness. Help me not to think of myself more highly than I ought or to be wise in my own eyes!! Open my eyes to the ways I have hurt others, and grant me quick repentance and a heart that is quick to do all that I need to do to make things right with others. Give me courage to love in the face of rejection, and give me opportunities to lavishly love those you call me to love, even when I am hurt and confused by them. Help me to love well and to persevere in love even when it becomes difficult. Help me to be a peacemaker, and not to inflame conflict. Thank you that you are my rock and that your love is my identity and source of strength. Help me to be rooted in your love, so that I can love in difficult situations. Remind me that the gospel is most prominently displayed through lavish, unmerited love in the face of sin and rejection--as this is the love that you showed to me! I confess that I am fully incapable of loving like this apart from your grace and your power! I pray that Romans 12 would speak to any others who are wrestling through these same questions and issues like me. Thank you, Lord! We love you.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Gifts of Grace
3 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.
Marks of the True Christian
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.
Weekend A La Carte (November 18) - I am in (on?) Rhode Island today, speaking at a little church-based conference here. If you are in the area, feel free to drop by Perryville Bible Church a...
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