* I've been online little over the last month and a half or so and got a bit side-tracked with the "Pastor" blog last month. I recently realized that I never posted the conclusion to this series, so here it is.
Some Thoughtful Questions To Ponder
"Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God." Colossians 3:16
What is the "word of Christ" and how does allowing it to "richly dwell within [us]" affect our gathering together? Are we spending adequate time admonishing and teaching one another? An encouraging word that originates from the voice of the Father can literally change a life. Can one even properly admonish or teach without the word of Christ richly dwelling within them?
"Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel." Philippians 1:27
What does it mean to be "with one mind" with other Believers? Is it really even possible on a larger scale then with two or three others? How do we "strive together for the faith of the gospel"? What is detrimental to this agenda?
"Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Ephesians 4:1-3
As I stated earlier, tolerance in love must always be in mind. We must be diligent to preserve unity as well. It will not happen by itself. Peace and unity take perseverance! Division does not take effort - it happens everywhere you look without any labor whatsoever for it is natural to the flesh that opposes the Spirit. "Church" splits, people hopping from ministry to ministry. Hurt after hurt after hurt within the Body has caused mass casualties throughout the ages. Why? Little, if any tolerance in love exists. Offence and disagreements too often separate the Body. Who will be "diligent to preserve unity of the Spirit"? Could it be possible that if we actually overlooked wrongs and disagreements and focused on love and what God is trying to bring about in His Body, we might actually begin to see true unity in the Spirit?
"If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Love, love, love. Remove love from the equation and what remains of all of our efforts as a member of the Body? Nothing.
"Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity." Colossians 3:14
We're to challenge, we're to confront, we're to question, we're to bear with one another, we're to forgive, but more than anything, we're to intentionally put on love. The Body has absolutely no chance of discovering the beauty of unity without love as the bond. Putting on love obviously depicts an action. Just like we put on clothing in the natural, do we clothe ourselves in love?
"Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a and 13
Walking according to the Spirit and not according to our own fleshly agendas and motivations assures that we will walk in love. Unity will follow.
I'll wrap this up with this final thought that I will pose as a question. With all of church history in mind, which do you think has the best chance of bringing us together in unity as the beautiful Body of Christ? Judgment and division or patience and love? Now I'm not saying that you have to have one completely without the other, but what I am saying is that if my focus is primarily on gathering how I see fit, more-so than I long to love, I believe I greatly limit my chances of being a healthy part of the Body. I personally don't enjoy being around others who constantly pick apart everything that I say and are ready to fire away at me. I would not expect anyone to want to be around me should I be this way either. Now please remember, I am talking about biblically defined love here. Not the modern view of "do whatever you want, who cares 'love'." That in fact is not love at all, but lawlessness. I have said for years that love has many facets and it is not always ooey-gooey. Love confronts, love exposes, love corrects. But no matter what the outcome, true biblical love that we are to put on (agape) is always rooted in putting others above ourselves. Are we striving to lay aside all that divides us and elevates our own views and doctrines? Are we each doing our individual part to be submitted to the leading of the Holy Spirit as we gather, no matter where that may be? Differences aside, whether doctrinal or otherwise, my greatest calling is to love first. Unity in the Spirit is the absolute only way the Body of Christ will ever achieve any level of unity that they try and try to attain. It will not be via programs, services or sermons, but agape love via the Holy Spirit.
In 1958, Watchman Nee wrote a profound statement. "I am almost ashamed to confess that for years I thought I knew what is the doctrine of the Body and even tried to apply the doctrine, without seeing the thing, the reality. Reading a guide about London could never take the place of a visit to London. Knowing a book on cookery could never take the place of being in a kitchen. Knowing the doctrine of the Body of Christ can never take the place of seeing it."
LORD, I long to see your beautiful Body become united as Paul wrote about. I choose to believe that a new identity, Her true identity is possible in this hour. I long to stand hand in hand with Her - the Holy Spirit as our Guide and The Christ as the lone Head. Show us Your ways O Lord, teach us Your paths.