I apologize for the tardiness of this post. Between a teething baby who has kept me up for the past few nights and the need to catch up on some housework, I never got around to writing this post yesterday. Now it is 4am (I’m not awake entirely by choice), and I have been provided with some very quiet time to write and reflect. 🙂
Loving the Saints
When God was merciful, when He revealed Jesus Christ to us as our Brother, when He won our hearts by His love, this was the beginning of our instruction in divine love. When God was merciful to us, we learned to be merciful with our brethren When we received forgiveness instead of judgement, we, too, were made ready to forgive our brethren. What God did to us, we then owed to others. The more we received, the more we were able to give; and the more meager our brotherly love, the less were we living by God’s mercy and love. Thus God Himself taught us to meet one another as God has met us in Christ. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer
This chapter met me right where I was, again. I got up early, feeling good about myself, sat down to do this study in the quite of the morning, and then, my husband came downstairs to eat his cereal. A few people know this about me, but I despise eating noises, especially crunchy things. I tried to continue to study downstairs, but eventually had to continue my quiet time in our bedroom. I’m not sure what is necessarily correct when it comes to pet peeves, but I know that my heart response to my husband was not godly (and therein lies the problem with pet peeves).
And, so, we continue our talk with the difficulty of loving the saints. I still have parts of chapter 5 floating around my head, especially how radical the “most excellent way” of Biblical love is in our time and culture. There might be fleeting thoughts of, “okay, loving like God isn’t so hard” until we are faced with the first challenge – loving the people who should be easy to love: other Christians. Raise your hand if you are thinking of someone right now. Yep, me too.
The Body of Christ
I believe that loving the saints is so difficult because we were created to be in community. Just as our Triune God exists has a mystical example of community, so we too were created to be in constant relation with Him and with the body of Believers. So, why is it so hard? Because God desires our hearts over sacrifice, over acts of service, because he calls us to work together for His Kingdom, Satan’s first attack is going to be through our relationships. And we are sinful people. Sinful person + sinful person = strife unless we have the conviction of the Holy Spirit urging us to put aside our selfish ways.
What is the purpose of the body? I think that Romans 12:3-8 and Ephesians 4:11-16 exemplify it well. I was really struck by the wide varieties of gifts we can be given as a group so that we can work together for the common good. I also noticed, in the Ephesians passage, that Paul makes a point to include persons of the prestigious and lowly states as necessary members of our ministry on earth.
Christians are not independent of each other: they should not seek to be so. We are not the body of Christ individually, but we are collectively. We are not set to stand alone but with others. We can help others and be helped ourselves. Another’s work may be needful for the success of ours, ours for the success of another’s. One supplies just what the other lacks. So that if all supply what they can, the body becomes perfect in working. -H. Bremner
Love for the Body
How, then, do we embrace our need for community? First, we need to recognize that there is only one Body and it is vital to our spiritual growth and maturity. Therefore, we must approach the community with which God has gifted us with an eagerness to maintain unity through peace. Love and peace from above will force us to bear all things, hope all things, and believe all things through the power of the Holy Spirit, because, if we cannot love our brother, then we cannot love God.
The body of Christ is such an amazing thing. It is a group of sinful people, choosing to love one another, succeeding only through the power of the Holy Spirit, and using their God-given gifts to serve one another and help spread the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the greatest challenge of my life, to love, but I must remember that Jesus has commanded us to love with a sacrificial love. I must remember that I, along with each and every other brother and sister in Christ, am vital to the purpose of the Body and to never withhold the talent that was given to me for the common good. I must remember that my all of my brothers and sisters, including my husband, are sinners, and if I try, through my own might, to maintain our relationships, then we will fail. But, if I choose to love the Body, relying on the strength and character of God, then we will remain unified.
This is a Bible study, so we need some discussion! I have written some of my reflections; now share what ideas or verses resonated with you in the comments section below. Please feel free to be a part of the discussion even if you are not doing the home study!
This week’s memory verse:
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