Why is it, that conflict, hate, slander, and anger seem to find their way into the church body? Why is it the smallest of things so often end up causing the biggest division and hurt? Sometimes those things, those events, are so ugly and hurtful. They tear your heart out and leave you wondering… What just happened? Why our church? Why our Pastor? Why my best friend? The hurt cuts deeply and the pain and questioning seem to linger for far too long. Why God…why?
It is so important during these times that we remember that through it all we are called to be obedient to God and make sure we do not lose sight of our priority of serving and worshiping Him alone. In Deuteronomy 6:5 God commanded Israel in saying: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Then, in Matthew 22, Christ responds to the Sadducees and Pharisees regarding the greatest command and once against reminds them of correct priorities regarding our relationships, especially to the Lord, and he says: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
But what does that have to do with the pain that we experience when turmoil and warring finds its way into our church family and tears the body apart? It seems that more often than not, people forget the truth of God’s word. We forget His character. We forget who it is that we serve. We forget that when we gave our lives to the Lord we became his slave. Our heart, mind, soul, strength…they are not ours anymore…they are His. As a new creation we are to worship God. We are not supposed to worship pastors, or people, things, programs, processes, budgets, or even ourselves. We are supposed to love and worship the Lord…and love our brothers and sisters.
In John 15:17 there is a commandment from Christ and it is not the least bit vague. Christ said “This I command you, that you love one another.” In all of our trials and disagreements, we need to continue to love the Lord and love each other. If our mindset was first and foremost consumed with that command, if we were modeling the love that Christ has for his Father, and the love he has for us, we would guard our hearts, our mouths, our minds, everything, and bring it into submission before the Lord.
Consider for a moment how Christ reacts when we disagree with Him…when we willingly disobey His commands…when we sin. How does he respond? Does he leave us in anger? Does he condemn us and hold that sin against us? Does he go before His Father and slander our name? Does he gossip about us to the Holy Spirit? Does he change His holy character and suddenly become unfaithful and unloving? Never. Never. Never. He is loving. He is gracious. He is merciful. He is forgiving. He is faithful.
God has called us to live righteous lives, to be holy, so we should look to Christ as our example and evaluate our holy or unholy responses to others. When we go through these times we should ask ourselves if we are acting with a character that models the Risen Savior that died on the cross and rose again, that is forever gracious, merciful, faithful and loving? He is forever faithful.
Lord, we are your new creation. Help us to demonstrate righteous behavior towards each other all of the time and teach us to do it with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Amen.