Tuesday, November 5, 2019

When The “I” In United Is Out Of Place

Therefore if there is any encouragement [consolation] in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,  fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” – Philippians 2:1-3

A friend of ours – Broughton – would often say that when the “I” in unIted gets out of place the church becomes “untIed”.  Very often Christians think of the local assembly of Believers they are associated with as being representative of the Body of Christ, the big “C” Church.  That is true, in part.  They represent a group of people who were born sinners and are now born again by faith in Jesus – His death – His resurrection – His deity. They are all sealed by the Spirit of God and shown how to live their new life by the Word of God.  They are adopted children, part of the spiritual Israel – Abraham’s promise – the family of God – guaranteed eternal life with the Father. They have the capacity to love that is derived by their faith and the power of the Spirit in them. 

I do not pray for these [Jesus’ disciples] alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word [that would be us]; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” – John 17:20-23

When Jesus prayed that prayer, it was not just for one local church, but for every Believer and every assembly of Believers that would ever be until His glorious return. The problem is that our old nature gets in the way.  In my experience what keeps the Church fragmented is that the “I” gets out of place. That who we are ethnically, geographically, nationally, and economically becomes the condition of unity. Very often the hand of fellowship through the Spirit is not extended before you are willing to embrace my flesh – my old nature – who I am in the world. If you don’t look like me, live like me, talk like me, if you are not from around here, then I will have nothing to do with you – Jesus or no Jesus. There are many reasons that is true – past injustices – mistrust – following the traditions of our fathers (which are not Biblically based) – walking on the other side of the road past the man in the ditch – like the priest and Levite (Luke 10). The man in the ditch was of the same faith as them – but they walked on by.   It was someone that the Jews hated that showed grace and mercy to the man. Who extended the love of God and not the pre-conditions of man.

Before we consider their actions with disdain or contempt – let me suggest that all of us are just one tick on the clock away from being just like them.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35

Our greatest witness to the world is unity in the Body of Christ and our love for one another.  The Church is not doing well in that regard. Often restoration in relationship is contingent upon one party proving they love the other before the one offended will offer their love.  What others do or don’t do is not a prerequisite for my obedience – it is merely and excuse to not obey – God calls that “sin”.  Oh, I could go on.  The Bible is clear about how we should respond to others no matter how we are treated. The two greatest commandments are found in Matthew 22. Love God and love others.  If you are having a problem loving other Christians, the source of the problem can be found in your lack love for God. That is a hard pill to swallow – especially in the face of social injustice  and past generational wrong. Oh I could go on, but I won’t.  Not today.

“He [Jesus] replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!” – Mark 7:6-9

This is the root of the problem with unity in the Body of Christ.  It is sin – that we relabel as preference – you can put dark chocolate on it, but it is still sin.  If there is division between Christians with worldly preconditions for unity – both sides need to repent. And if it but one side then that side must repent and the other must be willing to embrace the prodigal.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

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