As we gather on Sunday mornings to worship, I’m awe struck by the gift of relationships: our relationship with Christ and the great blessing of our relationship with one another. Can you imagine living where there was nobody else to talk to and celebrate and rejoice with?
The blessings of family – community – the body of Christ – church – can also be the source of some of our biggest challenges. This is why we need to carefully reflect and consider how we treat others at home, in Sunday gatherings, on our jobs, and in public. Thankfully, we’re not on our own and we do not have to do this under our own power – we have the Holy Spirit to help us interact in ways that bless others and brings honor to Christ.
We also have scripture – God’s word – to teach, instruct and guide us in all of our relationships. (1 Peter 3:8) – tells us to live in harmony with one another. This doesn’t mean we can’t have diversity or must agree with everyone about everything – goodness – how dull that would make us be! We must praise the Lord for creating us with all sorts of different personalities, abilities, and perspectives of view. Rather than focusing on our differences, we can choose to blend together – sort of like the harmony achieved when our chorus and praise team sing. You see, God has graciously given us one another – given us as gifts to one another – and – without community / companionship, we can’t spiritually grow individually or collectively.
There are times when our relationships seem more grating than gratifying. So, how does God want us to respond when faced with differences of opinion or insults or with conflicts or even with mistreatment? As hard as it may seem, God instructs us to pursue peace and give blessing – even to those who don’t deserve it. (1 Peter 3:9-11) There have been times when I’ve wanted to defend myself – the decisions I’ve made – the reasons for my actions – times when affronted by another… but the Lord reminded me to hold my tongue and to trust Him to be my defender. It’s not always comfortable and more often than not, it’s not my first reaction, but it’s always the best and correct response. What the Holy Spirit has taught me is that by refusing to be drawn into a heated argument, it becomes a profound witness and testimony to God’s love and presence. Perhaps there are times when God allows sticky situations to arise just so we can practice and demonstrate love toward those who mistreat us: To love our enemies – to bless those who curse us – to do good to those who hate us – to pray for those who spitefully use and persecute us…so we may be sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father…Matthew 5:43-48
As Christ’s ambassadors on earth, we have a responsibility to represent Him with our conduct – our words – our attitudes – our behavior. Those who don’t know the Lord are more influenced by how kindly we treat others than how much Scripture we know. Living peacefully and harmoniously with others, as much as possible on our part, will not only improve our relationships but bring blessings and joy into every situation and circumstance.
So, let us praise and worship God for the people He’s placed in our paths which we journey as individuals and as church – His body – and intentionally commit to helping others grow in Christlikeness – even as we are striving to do the same. Let us always celebrate the blessings of family – community – the body of Christ – church – and the gift of a new person or persons that God brings into our lives. We ARE church: together strong – together community – together one in Christ, whom we call Lord of our lives. Blessings!