Saturday, June 18, 2016

The counter-productive inner-bickering within the body in the post-Christian era.

Some have stated that we live in a post-Christian era in the United States. Others say that Christians are rapidly becoming a minority in this country. The way we see Christian values being undermined in every aspect of our pop culture leads me to believe that those observations are correct. This reality causes great anxiety within the body of Christ. We find it hard not to become discouraged as we try to live out our faith. We sense a big battle approaching, but we can’t help to feel defeated before we have even begun the fight.

I’m not equating the situation in the United States with what the persecuted church goes through in places where being a Christian is a death sentence. But I think that the shifting winds and the cloud formations on the horizon announce that there is a great storm coming to these shores. And as a church we need to realize that the best way to weather it is to stand together, in the unity of one body.

Paul told us in Ephesians chapter 4 that one of the steps toward spiritual maturity is to maintain the unity within the church:

3. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (v.3) Remember we are one: There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism. (v. 4-5)

The spiritually mature church and individual know that the focus should be on the similarities between the different parts that compose the body, not on the differences. We realize how the diversity brings about richness as the core truth binds us together under the roof of Grace and the blanket of Love, which covers a multitude of sins. (1Peter 4: 8)

It is difficult enough to have the rest of society trying to tear us apart. Let’s not empower those who hate us and want to destroy us by helping them destroy us from within.

I know it’s hard to get along. Trust me, I know! I’m not the most forgiving person you would ever meet. I’m very selfish. My ability to extend grace to others ends right before it involves me having to give up an inch of my own rights or an item of my full agenda. The good news is that it is not my grace what sustains me. It is God’s Grace! Our job is to surrender to Him and to pray that the Holy Spirit will guide us and teach us how to be one body, united through the bond of peace among us in love.

So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Romans 12: 5

As we surrender to Him, I believe our ability to be humble and merciful increases. I believe also that there is a reason one of the steps to Spiritual maturity found in Ephesians 4 calls us to: Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (v.2) We need these qualities in order to remain together. Anyone who has ever had to share their life with another knows how hard it is when you throw a couple of people (or more) under one roof for an extended period of time: chaos! It happens at work, at home, at school, at playgrounds, at grocery stores…even in the highway (which means that they don’t even have to be under a roof).

The only way to stop the inevitable bickering, inner fighting and power struggles that occur among those who have to co-exist in close proximity is by realizing that it is not a big deal. What I mean is: we are not all that important! If you think about it, the reason we are not humble is deeply rooted in a sub-conscious and sometimes not so sub-conscious idea that we are important. I know…I’m speaking from experience here. The only reason I get offended when someone says something careless is because I take myself too seriously. The only reason I get angry when someone doesn’t do or act the way I want them to is because I think I’m in control. The only reason I think I’m in control is because I think I know better. The only reason I think I know better is because I think I’m smarter than everyone else around me. And because I think all that, I think I’m so very important. Hence, I’m not completely humble. Without a well-developed sense of humility, I cannot be gentle…and forget about patient!

The main reason I am not patient is because I think I’m first…which stems from my lack of humility…which reveals the source of my problem: pride.

It’s a big cycle of sin with pride/self at the head.

The only way to break this cycle of sin is to place Christ as the Head!

It’s a long process, but the only one that will help us achieve unity…the process of toppling all other gods and accepting that Jesus is the Head of the Body…the One and Only Lord. As we allow Him to ascend to His righteous place, the differences would begin to fade away and the church will finally present a united front, dressed in the Armor of God, ready to fight the strange battle that’s ahead.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6: 12

Therefore, let’s not give the enemy fresh ammunition to continue his efforts to try to destroy us. Let’s resist the temptation to publicly degrade, insult, harshly criticize or put down the body. Let’s not allow our disagreements to irrevocably split us apart. Instead, let’s stand together behind the shield of Faith, guided by the Head of our Army: Jesus our Lord!

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