Oh, honey. NOW you have hit my button.
This is my heartbeat.
You know, when I would speak in California on Love Your Neighbor, I found that the real message was Love One Another, since we are not doing it. I also found that people weren’t ready for that message yet. Not the way I was sharing it, anyway.
What I kept asking at the meetings and workshops was this, if we have a baby and bring it home, will it want to live here? Will it run away? Will it become homeless? Will it be neglected, abused, abandoned, rejected?
It is one thing to introduce someone to Christ. It is another to bring them to church.
You’ve told them about their wonderful oldest brother, Jesus and about their amazing Papa, but what will they see when they come “home”. Will they find Him there?
If all they see of their new family is jealousy, competition, gossip, fighting and feuding, lack of forgiveness, no mercy, no kindness or thoughtfulness, selfishness and the same sins as the world walks in, why would they want to stay? What are we teaching them as they grow, anyway? To read the Bible and not live it? To be like us, little clones of us but not resembling their Father?
We tend, as a church to want to make others clones of ourselves, dress this way, talk this way, don’t do this, do that, learn the language, etc. The truth is, Jesus was the express image of His Father, so we could see and know the Father! Shouldn’t we be the same? As we know Jesus, and take the time with Him, shouldn’t we be increasingly like our Papa? Shouldn’t the world be able to taste and see that the Lord is good when they are with us? Jesus is the bread of life, and we are His body. So, Bite Me!!! :O)
We are to bear fruit, and fruit is sweet. Our babies should be in an environment to grow in sweetness and safety all through their lives. We are also to BE fruit (Gal. 5.)
A church, like a family is filled with all sorts of people, of many ages and developmental stages, talents, gifts, personalities and life experiences. So, you can have an infant, a toddler, pre-schooler, kindergardener, grammer school aged, tween, teen, adults, seniors all at the same time. You will have one burping up on you, messing it’s pants, wetting, and cooing and another pinching, biting, pulling hair, another tantruming, crying, mouthing off, refusing to do what is asked, another shadowing you and imitating everything you do and say, another challenging you to your face, another locking themselves in their room and refusing to come out, one who seems to live to torment the others, one running away, one learning skills like learning to cook or drive, all at the same time! And the list goes on.
Additionally, in the body of Christ, we also have people of all ages and personalities in spiritual matters and responses, so we are definitely the more interesting family to deal with. People come to us from life, and already have their own peronsality traits, temperaments, wounds, habits, belief systems – paradigms- filters of how they hear and see and interpret that, philosophies, family situations, etc. Then, they come into new life and have to learn a whole other way of living, which takes stages of development just like a natural life does. Plus, they have this HUGE family, and a new Father who thinks like no one else does. What is THAT about?
Some develop faster and everyone seems to love them more, yet many lack character and maturity with that. Gets kind of messy. Interestingly, the world expects more of us and judges us more harshly. They don’t understand that we have the double-whammy of family on us -both physical and spiritual. But, we should be understanding that ourselves, shouldn’t we? Right!
We tend to hurt each other more than we know. But the wonderful gift to us is a special thing God instructed us in. It is called forgiveness. If we will walk in this, and I don’t mean the phony stuff of saying the words and not intending it in your heart, we will be healed of our hurts and set others free at the same time.
The thing about forgiveness is that it is NOT natural. It is spiritual and goes against everything we feel and want to see happen!
It is not about us. It is about the big picture. Daddy’s house. It is a deliberate choice and act. It is an exercise in liberty. Give it up to God in obedience even though you don’t feel it or want it, and it sure doesn’t make sense.
Keep doing it, like exercise and eventually you will start thinking like your Papa and releasing it more gladly. One day you will find yourself weeping for these people and wanting God to bless them and work in their lives for their prospering. You will want them in heaven right with you. When that happens, you have forgiven and are so free nothing can bring back the old responses.
When the church gets this, forgivenss, mercy, kindness, tenderheartedness, patience, LONGSUFFERING, love, then joy and peace are with us, too and the world will be beating down our doors.
Our differences are built in us to help refine us and complete us as people and as a body. No one is all things. We need each other.
So, we should appreciate those things that are not things we have in us, understand, or naturally gravitate to in others. I have found that many of my best and dearest friends in the body are those whom we have had to hammer out relationship with, and I mean for years, even decades. They are my greatest treasures and allies, my true friends.
My greatest regrets are the things I have said along the way about people, and what I have said to them. You can never take your words back, so be careful with them.
Hang in there with each other. Forgive and pray for one another. Many physical illnesses will leave us when we live this way, and when others respect us, too.
I believe some of what we go through physically is because there is so much biting of each other with our words and mouths. The things we say have life, and I am trying to be so much more careful now of my mouth. Jesus said to be careful lest we bite and devour one another. That is cannibalizm! Ugly, yes?
Could it be that the sister or brother you gripe about because they are always sick/weak are just being eaten for lunch? Could it because we are holding them hostage with unforgiveness? Could it be because they are doing the same to others? Hmmm.
John 20:23 “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (Now THIS is scary, isn’t it? I, personally don’t want to be standing in front of Jesus and learn that someone didn’t make it because their sins were retained on my account and kept God’s hand from moving. I really truly want Jesus to have everything and everyone He paid for! I love Him. I want Him to have all He should have, and that is everything and EVERYONE, absolutely everyone. I don’t want to cause His tears as He is sending someone away that He loves so much He died for, just because they did something to me or someone I love and I couldn’t forgive through it all.)
John 20:19-23 The first thing after Jesus was risen, and appeared to the frightened apostles He came and stood in their midst, spoke peace to them, showed them his scars, spoke peace again, sent them, gave them the Holy Spirit and immediately said to forgive (verse 23 above). It looks to me to be of great priority.
Matt. 6:14, 15. (For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will aslo forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their tespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”) … Ouch! (Even More scary.)
Matt. 7: 1-6 (Judging one another -picture an eye surgeon coming at you with planks cjutting out of his eyes, groping and having a sharp thing in his hand to operate on your eyes! Uh, I don’t think so!)
Matt. 18 15-20 (if your BROTHER…) This obviously is for family and verse 18 says we can bind up or loose what we agree together on, and it is in relation to offenses in the family!
Matthew 18: 21-34 (my BROTHER..and I forgive…) this whole chapter expresses the heart of the Father on humility, offenses, forgiveness and respect.
2 Cor. 2:10 (When one of us forgives, others should agree and forgive too so that satan cannot take advantage of us.)
I noticed that the gospels are our instruction in love, forgiveness and how to live as family. We need to get back to basics, the foundation of who we are and why we are here.
Lord, give us Your heart for one another. Let us walk in love. Not the mooshy kind, but the forever kind that bears your fruit
(Gal.5) and shows who our Daddy is.
May we be one, as You are one. You are three of you in one, yet each independently being different in appearance, purpose, work, and even physical nature, yet you have one nature, one purpose, one Presence, one love. That is how we should be, like You! Separately together, individuals united in Your nature and Your Presence.
You have said that before You return, we will be known on the earth by our love for one another. Because every word of Yours must come to pass before you return, I know that You are not coming today. I know that we have to get this one. We MUST. Let us transform into Your likeness soon. We are not getting this one yet, Lord. Transform us. Even so, come Lord Jesus.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control.
Galatians 5:26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Galatians 6 1-5
Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourlf lest you also be tempted.
BEAR ONE ANOTHER’S BURDENS, and so FULFILL THE LAW of Christ.
For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
But let each one examine HIS OWN work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
For each one shall BEAR HIS OWN LOAD.
Galatians 5:14, 15
For ALL THE LAW is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!
(Love the Lord and love your neighbor as yourself – on these two commandments hand ALL the Law and the Prophets.)
All scriptures quoted are from the NKJV