Tuesday, June 9, 2015

5 aspects of Christian community

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:1-3

There are five ways in which true Christian community honors the calling to "love one another" as Jesus loved us. This is the new commandment Jesus gave His disciples. It is the distinctive of Christian relationships. It is also something only God can do within us.

First we love in humility. We set aside selfish agendas and consider other members of the Christian community as more important than ourselves. We learn to sacrifice for each other as Jesus did. Like Jesus we enter into relationships to serve others.

Secondly, we are gentle with each other. Christian relationships are not sharp or divisive. We humbly care for each other, even when our brother or sister may not quite be approaching us that same way. We can handle their neediness with gentleness.

Next, we are patient. That is not easy. It means that in the church we may encounter long term difficult relationships. By being patient with God to do His work in our fellow Christians, we learn to be part of His sanctifying process in others. And this sanctifies us.

Along with patience must come a loving forbearance. We can easily have a grudging forbearance. In fact, I have to guard against it given my personality which is to "get along" while simultaneously being sarcastic in order to deal with what I don't care to experience! Christ tells us we must bear with one another in love. Love is the driving emotion that ties it all together. Christian love makes patience and forbearance possible.

And finally, we seek to stay together in Christian unity. We seek peace and reconciliation under a common faith and love for Jesus. Then the Spirit's bond of peace can hold us together in Christian community. It is the most amazing set of relationships with people we will have in our lifetimes. And I belive it is worth obeying Jesus, even in the hard work, to experience this together.

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