As a peacemaker, this confuses me as much as it disturbs me. The bible is proof that all of the members of the body of Christ are to be in unity. Here are some verses that support Christians being united and not divided.
1 Corinthians 1:10
10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to one hope when you were called- 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Sadly, this is not what I am seeing in the body of Christ. In Galatians 6:1, it says that we are to restore fellowship to a loved one or fellow sister or brother who is sinning.
I am struggling with dealing with friends who are living in some sort of sin, but when I turn to the elders with the gift of prophecy, (my gift is mercy) whom are supposed to be unbiased ministers of reconciliation, they will tell me to turn against them as an act of responsible prudence, since “I don’t need” such people in my life.
A true peacemaker will not be biased and tell one Christian to get rid of someone else who is a Christian because they are not fitting into “their” definition of righteousness.
I admit, I am selfish towards my closest friend and we have our spats and disagrements, and yes, I do not trust her 100%, yet I chose to stick by her and see her through without giving up on her and turning my back on her no matter what the cost, unless she does something blatantly dishonest. I know God has called me and my friend, who is also a very helpful nanny to our 4 year old son to stick together in unity.
Proverbs 15:22 states that if you surround yourself with many counselors, your plans will succeed. But Jeremiah 17:5 says we are cursed for trusting in man (and whose heart turns away from God.) I have been seeking God as wholeheartedly as can be expected in these crazy last days. I do put my trust and faith in the Lord more than anything or anyone, seeking him in all I do asking for wisdom and direction, yet I feel as though I am not getting as far as I have been called to go. I still revisit the fact that I need the cooperation of other members of the body of Christ to be my allies and be interested in helping me promote unity in the church including between me and my Christian friends, whom God has put into my life. What God has put together, let no man separate. It just doesn’t talk about marriage.
In Matthew 18:15-17 Jesus gives options about how to deal with someone who sins in the church. Some people I see clearly however are abusing what it says in Matthew 18:17, treating people who are struggling with sin as pagans, thinking that they don’t listen or care about the truth when they do care about what’s right in their hearts.
I know how hard of a challenge it can be for Christian leaders to tell what’s really in the hearts of people who are having struggles, e.g. alcoholics.
However, I just don’t see “kicking someone out of my fellowship” as an act of tough love as the appropriate answer when my friend(s) and I are having disagreements.
Galatians 6:1 encourages us to restore someone in sin to gentleness, but when I turn to an elder for assistance with a dispute I am having with a close Christian friend, it is drawn way out of porportion!
1 Thessalonians 5:14 also says to rebuke those in sin, but encourage the weak and be patient towards all. I don’t see this hardly!
If Christians are supposed to be in tune with God and the Holy Spirit, why is it that they are still in disagreement with each other? It just doesn’t make sense to me.
The very thing that I am passionate about, unity, fellowship and true friendship in the church, is also what’s affecting me in my personal life.
God brings people into my life, yet at the same time sends church elders to come in who disapprove of the behavior of friends He chose when I have a problem. This gives the devil a chance to use the situation for evil by causing seeds of discord being sown. Egads! We’re supposed to restore them to fellowship, rebuking them where necessary, holding them accountable, but don’t turn your back on them! True, when people are disobedient, we are to not associate with them, but too many in the church are judging fellows brothers and sisters as being disobedient where they are not.
In Proverbs 6:19, God hates those who sow discord among the brethren. Not to mention that members of the body of Christ or the “brethren” as I like to call them, especially those in the American church, are not all in sync or harmony when it comes to what matters most, the ministry of reconciliation, which includes having passion for those who have lost their way and wooing them by being the compassionate and merciful hands and feet of Jesus, giving them grace instead of so call tough love. Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that we would be divided Christians! The celebration of the resserection of our Lord, still rings in my heart as a time of peace, harmony, love, mercy, jubilee and inclusion.
There are some uncommon challenges that people face, which causes others to look down on them with scorn for not conforming to the mold. I am getting weary of seeing the church self-righteously pointing fingers at people instead of being understanding of their challenges. When we sew Mercy, we are to reap Mercy. I trust in God for His word not to return void in this area. I am being challenged by others right now because of the mercy I show my friends instead of giving them what they define as tough love. But I have to remain strong and villigant, trusting and believing that I am doing right by God. I trust God to make all wrongs right, not just for those who obey his laws perfectly but also for those who stumble.
There is too much at stake and bigger fish to fry then people not conforming to the “natural social order of norms!”
What seems to matter more to the church is the manner in which people in extenuating circumstances are expected to behave, and other trivial irrelavant matters verses the importance and essential matters of the heart that are supposed to carry more weight such as reconciliation, acceptance, fellowship, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, lovng Christ-centered friendships, giving needed and very useful aid, giving wisdom that works and is beneficial and right for the person, and helping them heal from the hurts they have already sustained, thereby giving them new hope in what Christ our risen Savior has done for us!
Pray for me everyone! I am dealing with something that hits home for me right now, which influenced this article. I will close with this last verse.
James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.