Friday, May 07, 2010

Gathering In Unity: Part 3

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.


Susan said...

Tough questions. I come from a natural fleshy background of being able to "see the wrong" - my need to correct and judge situations (and people) severed some very important relationships. I've wounded and hurt quite a few people I truly loved with trying to get them to adhere to the standards of my choice (however Biblical they may be). So how does one employ God's Love to all of His creation (the saved and the unsaved) without feeling like we've compromised our positions and the message - let alone being multiculturally correct and being tolerate of people's life decisioin. I believe Joel it can only be done by the Spirit - after we choose to yield our rights, vision, discernment, judgements, etc. to Him. We have to see each other through His eyes - we then see through the eyes of Love - He accepts each of us where we are and still sees the potential in each of us. If we could grasp that - even minutely - we couldn't gossip, slander, judge - we'd truly be appreciative of the gifts we are meant to be to one another - we'd embrace each other as the Body of Christ - and as the Bride getting ready.

Joel Spencer said...

Susan: So true Susan. In our own strength and abilites, true unity just cannot be achieved (as is seen easily all throughout the Body now.) May the Holy Spirit guide us into humility and agape love so that we can continue to move closer to the unity that we read about in the Scriptures.

Alan Knox said...


Your paragraph that starts with "I believe part of our error has been we see love as weak" is one of the best paragraphs about unity that I've read. Great encouragement and challenge!


Alan Knox said...


Just to add one more thing to my previous comment... I don't think people realize that requiring others to agree with us actually demonstrates our own self-importance. As you stated, love and unity require humility and considering the other person as more important.


Daughter of Wisdom said...

I love this post!(No pun intended). When we surround ourselves with 'yes' people who only agree with our views, it leads to weakness! So even if you are wrong, you will never know, because the people around you are always agreeing with you, including the error you do.

We are too quick to rush to judgment against others(accuser of the brethren), instead of exercising patience(fruit of the Spirit) and humility(fruit of the Spirit).

You know, Jesus had twelve disciples and they were some of the most diverse men you ever saw. They were always bickering amongst themselves, yet Jesus chose just such a diverse group for His ministry and apostleship. In the process of time these men LEARNED to love and appreciate each other. Love won out!

Joel Spencer said...

Alan: It's challenging to strive for true peace in all relationships within the Body of Christ. Anyone can do it with those who they see eye to eye with but what about the other 99% of the Body that may see things differently? We've got to rise above our own agendas and opinions (I'm saying this to myself first here).

Daughter: You stated, "When we surround ourselves with 'yes' people who only agree with our views, it leads to weakness! So even if you are wrong, you will never know, because the people around you are always agreeing with you, including the error you do."

I couldn't agree more. Is a great preface for Part 4 that explores doctrinal and denominational walls. The Body of Christ is way too segregated, as She is now, to achieve unity in the Spirit.

Liz said...

It also helps to remember that sometimes the difference between a prophet and a heretic is time ... in other words we shouldn't be so quick to judge and so prideful to think we are the ones who are right

Anonymous said...

So true, Daughter of Wisdom put it great too. I think this is a very timly post, I have seen it put to action and lived out and I love how the body comes together and talks with love, to see Christ be formed in all. thanks for the TRUTH!

Joel Spencer said...

Liz: We are only responsible to share what the LORD desires us to. There is a time to stand up and say "Thus says the LORD", but it had better make sure that it is never for personal gain or interest. But yes, we should be quick to listen.

Anonymous: The Body of Christ, with the individuals within Her ruled by love, has no limitations.