Increasingly, people separate themselves from others and opinions which do not align with their own. Many people unfriend those who do not share their views. We need to be able to encourage, challenge, warn, and love each other through difference toward God…
11 Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.
14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.
When we see these verses list off how we are to treat each other in the church, we can see that life in the body of Christ is not one-dimensional. We often stop at verse 11 with encouragement. Encourage those around you. That’s relatively easy and more importantly in the world today, non-confrontational.
We don’t want to stir up trouble and we don’t want people telling us how to live, do we?
Paul doesn’t leave room for us to be half-hearted in our commitment to the body. He presses us in his teaching. Encourage, yet also respect your leaders, respect those who challenge your conduct, live in peace with others, warn those who don’t help out, strengthen those who are weak, and be patient with everyone… Not only those you agree with. Kindness isn’t reserved for your friends. It is to be lavished on all people around you.
That’s a tall order. Why do I have to be in community and fellowship with all these people whom I don’t have to deal with in the rest of life? Have you noticed that? Increasingly in the world, people are separating themselves from others and opinions which do not align with their own. We friend people online who share our political, social, moral, and theological perspectives. Many people unfriend those who do not share their worldview.
In the church, some people would think we are all already aligned and that unity and mutual love would be easy. Those people may not have been to church. Because it isn’t like that is it?
The church is a motley crew of differences and uniqueness in which much grace is required. And we are often short on grace with those in the church. There is a higher calling on our lives. We are to be like Jesus to each other. Think about that. Jesus lived out these verses in his interactions with those in the community of disciples.
We sometimes want the easy parts of that and not the tough parts. We don’t like the heavy lifting of body life. And this is core to our witness to the world.For me, it all comes back to Jesus’ words in which he prayed for us to have unity and love for each other like he has with the Father (John 17:20-23).
If we love each other and show unity, people will know that Jesus is from God. Isn’t that what we want?
So wade in. Wade in to closer relationships with each other and fulfill all of it. In the name of love. And grace. And unity. And our witness to the world…
Be willing to give and receive it, even when it’s not what we want to hear…