Most of us who were raised with brothers and/or sisters know what it’s like to not always get along. It’s a part of growing up. But most of us, in spite of that, are still glad for the experience. It taught us how make it in the real world. You learn to be around other people and get along with them. So it was good for us in the long run.
The church can be like that as well. Sometimes God puts us in the company of people we’d rather not be around. But either way we know that God can use these situations to shape our souls positively. I thought of this as I was mulling over Jesus’ teaching on Christian community in Matthew 18. There are several points around which He gives instructions and guidance:
These are important questions. Two quotes come to mind from the book Forgive & Forget by Lewis Smedes…
And this is profoundly true. For the faithful, our response goes back to the nature and character of God, who delights in forgiveness and grace. We give our enemies too much power if we let them live in our minds any longer than absolutely necessary. But if our strength and guidance come from Jesus, it makes no difference whether someone does something seven times or seventy times or four hundred-ninety times. And it also makes no difference if they repent with sincerity or not (cf. Luke 17:3-4). Our standard and our strength go back to Jesus – the one who did not retaliate against His tormenters, but endured the cross. Then He rose from the grave – not to visit Pilate or any other enemies in a fit of rage, but to visit His followers and begin the church. And that’s what has led to the place where we fellowship to this very day as brothers and sisters in Christ.
God bless you.
Andrew McHenry, Pastor
First Congregational Church
The blog of Andrew McHenry, Pastor of First Congregational Church of Emporia, Kansas.