Motivated By Love
I must be honest, when I read the many verses about the Body, several that will follow in this piece, I wonder if Paul was out of his mind to expect such unity within the Body. But one thing that I know- unity in the Spirit is so much more than just agreeing on everything. It is far deeper than camaraderie. Only seeking to gather with those who I completely agree with in all areas will only lead to one thing – me sitting alone in my study talking to myself. While this assures that no one will ever disagree with me, is it really what God desires within His Body? Can one finger ever do the work of an entire hand if said finger is always "going it alone"? I often ask myself these simple questions, "Do I always need to be right? Do my personal views have to always prevail? Am I OK if they don't? If people disagree with me, am I OK with that? Do I trust the LORD enough to work it all out if I love above all else and continually rely upon Him for guidance?" These are questions that I believe are healthy for a Believer to ask himself often as we venture into this strange, new land called the Body of Christ.
Let me just come out and ask you some questions in order to join your thoughts along with where we're headed. Do you lovingly address disagreements? Are you able to successfully debate and discuss differing doctrinal positions with others? Do you accept others' differences and welcome them as part of your spiritual journey, should they meet the biblical criteria mentioned at the beginning of this piece? Before you ever embark to debunk, disprove or judge in any fashion, do you first love? I'll be the first to admit that I don't always embrace loving who is before me before I formulate thoughts on what they're saying. But I am trying as I thoroughly believe that Jesus would patiently and lovingly address all who are in His Body, whether they had it all together or not. This is not to say, in any fashion, that biblical error is to be overlooked or sinful behavior embraced. It is however, establishing a foundation of love before any other action is taken. And remember, as I often state, love has many facets!
I believe part of our error has been we see love as weak. We think to love will surely make us a push-over. If we all only love, who will stand for what is right? Who will defend God's end of things? Who will come against the scores of error and false teachings that are within the so-called "church"? I used to feel that it was my role in all circumstances. I'm learning that it is, in fact, not. I somehow felt like I had to seek out error, expose it and pass it on to everyone that I came into contact with (just peruse 50% of my older articles written over the past three or four years). In the midst of this season, I realized something that really changed my view. It's the simple fact that I can easily judge and condemn, even "righteously" – it does not take much effort and absolutely no restraint. I did it for years. It comes "natural" to me. Error abounds in the Body and it only takes a few seconds to sit down and find a "ministry" to criticize and find fault with. Even a non-Believer with the ability to only read the Bible could do it properly. It is being loving, forgiving, patient and tenderhearted that requires patience, self-control and determination, for me.
I'm not saying we entertain blatant heretics and just overlook anything and everything, but we must establish love first. Love allows me to overlook faults. Love allows me to patiently discuss my understanding of the Word of God, even if it differs from yours. Love allows the Body to come together, despite differences. Love reminds me that I too am often in error, even though I desire to discover the truth. Love teaches me to see the deeper issues and focus on seeing what the LORD sees – the heart.
When love dictates the Body, She flourishes. I know it to be true. I am living it as some of my closest and most godly relationships are with others who see some matters, which I deem as important, quite differently than I. But true love, the love of the Father, is our bond. Being conformed to the image of Christ is our unified goal and nothing will come between that common goal – unless we let it. It is always our choice. It is a constant evaluation of my motives, my intentions and my focus.
* Buckle up your religious seatbelts for Part 4 that addresses Doctrines and Denominations.