In chapter 2 of I Am A Church Member by Thom Rainer (Amazon link) we jump into what Jesus says about how church members behave with one another. He makes it pretty clear – treat each other with love. When all Christians act in love for one another – they become a unifying influence in the church. Get that? Unifying. Not dividing.
God desires for Christians to get along. In fact He is emphatic about it. Jesus was clear when He said:
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” – John 13:35
The author makes an analogy to sports teams. Now we all know how quickly that analogy breaks down because not all players on a team love each other in the same way Christians do. Still, let’s consider the sports team that at least is working together. Individuals that work to help each other and strive for the bigger goal of the team end up unifying or helping the team to have winning seasons. When an individual decides that they are more important than the rest, become discouraged and talk bad about others, they begin to break down the team unity and the wins/losses column of the team begins to show more losses than wins.
So it is with the church. When individuals unconditionally love each other in the church, they build up and help each other. Paul saw this in the Ephesian church. He commended them for having “love for all the saints.” Church members were showing love for one another. Recorded a little later in the Ephesian letter, Paul encouraged them to “keep the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds.” There it is again, unity.
Demonstrating love and producing unity means we love each other unconditionally. Have you met any Christian that hasn’t made mistakes? No, I’m not talking about anyone that says they haven’t – that just isn’t realistic (or Biblical). Chapter 2 continues by dealing with mistakes we make with the tongue such as gossip or slander. It just can’t be part of a church and Christians cannot do it. The Spirit lead Christian is encouraged to always control their tongue because it can tear down unity. It demonstrates an unloving heart in the most easy to detect ways – what we say is so quickly noticed by others. Loosely translated – we light fires with it.
Not only do unifying members show love to one another and control their tongues, they also forgive. There isn’t a clause here that says “forgive unless …” That is what we easily come up with when we are avoiding our walk with the Spirit. Christians forgive unconditionally. Our actions with one another demonstrate we have forgiven.
We have all done wrong – that’s why we need a Savior. And we all can forgive others because of Christ’s forgiveness of us. Just as importantly, God will greatly use a person who can forgive and show mercy. (Check out Matthew 6:14-15.) Consider how Paul lays out how we should deal with each other – all of whom are imperfect humans. (I have a friend that likes to say “we are all flawed.”)
“Therefore, God’ chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentlenes, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. – Colossians 3:12-13 “
Rainer says – “Church unity is torn apart when members refuse to forgive, when any member is too prideful to grant forgiveness. Remember, Christ loved us so much that He died on a cross to forgive us. And now, as He has forgiven us, so we must forgive others.”
I am a unifying Church member when I love and forgive. We Christians at Wolfeboro Bible Church, though imperfect, believe that we must forgive others and love one another. If you need to help us see where we come short on that with you or others, please tell us in truth and in love. The invitation to love and good works is always here.
Here’s the second pledge from chapter 2. It is why I wrote the previous paragraph. Will you join me?
I will seek to be a source of unity in my church. I know there are no perfect pastors, staff, or other church members. But neither am I. I will not be a source of gossip or dissension. One of the greatest contributions I can make is to do all I can in God’s power to help keep the church in unity for the sake of the gospel.
Signed: (your name?)
Post contributed by Roger Kirkhart – Website Admin