I am reading “Paul’s Idea of Community” by Robert Banks on page 53. He quotes 1 Corinthians 1:4-8:
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
He then say:
This description has to do with the fundamental attitudes: patience, humility, tolerance, kindness, resilience, generosity, confidence, perseverance, optimism. Both here and elsewhere these attitudes detail not so much individual’s relationship to God as the interaction between Christian brothers and sisters. These attitudes should accompany their communication with one another and should also lead them into a real depth of relationship with one another.
If we can be honest. We live in an ever growing autonomous culture. America has an “I” and a “me” not to mention it starts with an “a”. I believe this is an ever growing mindset in the church as well. People would rather read the bible by themselves, pray by themselves, be accountable to themselves, and then go to “church” together. This has effected my greatly.
I think I would be a really good Christian if it were not for other Christians getting in my way all the time. They are like an obstacle course. Needy, impatient, critical, judgmental, gossipy, selfish, worrisome, they complain, they mistreat one another, they ignore one another needs, they would rather point a finger than carry a burden. Oh did I mention “they” is really me. The fundamental issue is one of love. I love Jesus more than I love Christians and I am starting to figure out that this is a false dichotomy. I can get along with Jesus just fine and I would rather spend more time with Him than with others. Me and Jesus understand each other. He doesn’t gossip about me, He doesn’t mistreat me, He doesn’t take my grace for granted. He meets my need, He asks for little in return, He is judgmental, He doesn’t ignore me I can go to Him anytime of the day, when I sin He doesn’t point the finger. When I have a burden He helps me carry it. Shoot! Why waste my time with Christians when I can just spend more time with Christ. He is a great bible study partner, because He knows all the answers, He is a great prayer partner, He says all the right things and never stumbles over His words, He knows exactly what I am thinking. Me and Jesus get along just fine! Just not so much with Christians.
There is only one problem. He elected the “Church”, redeemed the “Church”, and seals the “Church” made up of individuals. So we are His body and the way I love His body is the way I love Him. Christians and Christ are not mutually exclusive! I thought think I was taught this enough, or I just ignored it. Yeah I read it, but that was by myself and anyway Jesus understands that I would rather spend more time with Him anyway right? Again love is the issue. Christianity is a corporate work that can never be isolated. How we relate to other believers is a direct reflection of what we think about God. Our blatant disregard for other Christians and the “one anothers” we are to fulfill as imperatives is a direct reflection of what we really think about what Jesus accomplished on the cross.
If other Christians are in our way, it is because we don’t understand the work of the Cross and what exactly Jesus accomplished and who exactly Jesus redeemed. He redeemed an us just as much as He redeemed an I if not more. Jesus had the church on His heart which is a collection of individuals. God foreknew the “Church”, the Spirit seals the “Church”. We can’t understand our relationship with Jesus without understanding our relationship, and the obligations that come with this relationship, with other redeemed individuals.
So once we understand that God not only reconciles us to Himself by Christ but in like manner He reconciles us to other Christians JUST AS MUCH. Our hearts, motives, and actions toward other believers is heightened. And the way we talk serve, and commit to one another is illuminated. I believe this is key. So now when I gossip I am gossiping about Christ, when I am unkind I am unkind to Christ, when I am impatient, unloving, non-gentle, rude, and unforgiving I am doing the same to Christ. Christ and the Christian is inseparable. This is a package deal. When I serve another Christian I am serving Christ, when I am loving, sacrificial, I refuse to gossip, I refuse to ignore, I am patient, gentle, kind and forgiving, I am doing the same to Christ.
I really want us to think about this. Whatever we do to another believer we do to Christ. We can’t say we love Christ and dislike a brother. The two are joined at the hip. That is why love is the “perfect bond of unity” as Colossians says. When we put on Christ (which is another imperative) as believers we have obligations to fulfill. So the next time you think a Christian is in the way and you want to push him/her aside, you best realize that you pushing Christ to the side. Whatever you do to His bride or say of His bride you do and say of Him!