Most of all, let love guide your life, for then the whole church will stay together in perfect harmony.
– Colossians 3;14 (LB)
“Just like every parent, our heavenly Father enjoys watching his children get along with each other. In his final moments before being arrested, Jesus prayed passionately for our unity. It was our unity that was uppermost in his mind during those agonizing hours. That shows how significant this subject is.”
If we claim to be part of God’s family, we are responsible for the protection of unity where we fellowship. To me, this means that church is not just a building where believers go and worship. It is wherever we fellowship. We (the believers) are to protect the unity with each other. We are to keep peace, to make peace, protect our building called church and to protect each other, wherever in the world we are – at home, at work, at the mall, wherever. We (the believers) are the church. We, together, are the body of Christ (the church) and when we believe in him and love him and choose to follow him, together, we are one. Together, we are the church. Many of us, we have different faiths. We worship in different ways. But if we all believe in the same most important truth, then we are of one body – we are united in one body – the body of Jesus. This makes sense to me. Does this make sense to anyone else? I’m not dismissing the importance of the building called church. It is an important place to go for worship, fellowship, guidance, education. I believe if we find such a place where we feel comfortable, and perhaps even somewhat uncomfortable – if we are going for the right reasons, then we should attend. I am still searching. So many people in my family scold me for not attending church. What do you think? Do you believe that if I do not attend church, that I will fall away from God? Do you believe that my daughter (whom may I say is a stronger Christian than I) will fall away from God? Even if we worship together and fellowship together and learn together about what God has to say and share with our hearts when we study the Bible? I would love to hear other opinions besides what just I believe.
The Bible says, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
“Focus on what we have in common, not our differences.” “Paul tells us, “Let us concentrate on the things which make for harmony, and on the growth of one another’s character.”” We are all so different from each other – our personalities, race, backgrounds, etc. God gave us these characteristics for good reasons. All good things – these things that make us part of who we are. We should embrace these differences, even if we feel weird, which I often do. I’m a bit different and I’m ok with that. Have I always been ok with it? No. I’ve struggled with many things about myself that I’ve hated over the years. I used to hate everything about me. I have grown since then – grown in my mind and in my spirit, my soul (as well as body – I’d like to lose about 40 lbs of this body). All of the things we don’t like about ourselves and each other should not place a barricade between us and ourselves. We should use these things that make us special (and we are all special and we all have been given gifts, even if we are unaware of them) and use these things that make us different – we should value them, and not let those differences divide us from each other. We can be different and still be united. Mr. Warren says it so well: “God wants unity, not uniformity.” Our most important focus is “learning to love each other as Christ has loved us, and fulfilling God’s five purposes for each of us and his church.”
Those purposes? Mr. Warren speaks of these in his book. I have discussed 2 of them so far in these posts.
“Other believers will disappoint you and let you down, but that’s no excuse to stop fellowshiping with them. They are your family, even when they don’t act like it, and you can’t just walk out on them. Instead God tells us, “Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.”
“Reconciliation, not running away, is the road to stronger character and deeper fellowship.” I realize I’m a runner. I ran away from the building called church, though, not God. I do realize it would be a good thing to find a new church home and I am struggling with this one, but I am keeping my eyes and heart open to it.
“Groucho Marx was famous for saying he wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would let him in. If a church must be perfect to satisfy you, that same perfection will exclude you from membership, because you’re not perfect!”
“God warns us over and over not to criticize, compare, or judge each other.”
“Refuse to listen to gossip. Gossip is passing on information when you are neither part of the problem nor part of the solution. You know spreading gossip is wrong, but you should not listen to it, either, if you want to protect your church. Listening to gossip is like accepting stolen property, and it makes you just as guilty of the crime.” “People who gossip to you also gossip about you. They cannot be trusted.”
Does any of this make you think? Does it make you think differently than how you believed or thought previously? This is a fabulous book, although I do not necessarily believe in everything it says. This blog is about different books, one book at a time, reading it, studying it, practicing it with daily actions. This blog is to also challenge you – challenge you to think about things, how you live your life, taking action. What do you believe? How do you worship? Do you worship? If anything, I want this book and my blog to get your mind stirred up – to think for yourself. Don’t just listen to what others have tried to tell you or teach you, or how you were raised. Think for yourself. God gave you your own mind and your own thoughts and feelings for good reason – he wants to challenge you to use it. Use it. Think. Read your bible. If you don’t like the style or version of the bible you currently have, go get a different, easier to understand version. There are sooo many different versions at your Christian bookstore. There are also many people who work there who will help you find a great version if you ask their assistance. I encourage you to find the truth for yourself. Read the Bible. Doing this and then listening to those God whispers in your mind and heart will help you to find the truth you are looking for.
While there are a few things in this chapter I have conflict with, I do believe in what Mr. Warren says in the last page of this chapter: “The truth is, everyone needs and wants to be loved, and when people find a church where members genuinely love and care for each other, you would have to lock the doors to keep them away.” Now, I, personally, do not want to be bothered at home by even the closest of friends, nor family, unless invited. My home is my sanctuary, my place of peace, where I can escape the world and people. No, I don’t always choose to be alone – of course not. We have company over, but when I choose to invite them.
If you have any certain books you would like to study together, please see the Poll at the bottom of “Day 1” of this blog and vote, or send a comment (let me know if you prefer it not be published for others to see).
Go out there and make it an awesome Sunday! Think about what you can do to protect and promote unity in your church (the building called church and/or believers of Jesus). Not only in your “church”, but I challenge you (and me) to promote unity with unbelievers. We do not do this by force or coercion. We do not try to persuade. Many times, this has pushed me away from the church. I think there is a better way to get unbelievers to Jesus. We live as an example for others to follow. I’ve noticed that Hallie has several friends who follow her around like puppies, because they want to be like her. She tries to befriend everyone, even that weird, lonely kid that no one else wants to sit next to nor talk to. She is loving, kind, forgiving and generous in spirit. Other kids want to be like her. They want to be her friend. Heck, I want to be like her. Oh, she makes plenty of mistakes and she has a bad attitude sometimes. She is 11, after all. 😉 But, the negative behavior never lasts but for a few minutes. She gets punished and is always quick to apologize and ask forgiveness. I wish I were more like her in that sense, too. I stew in my anger and hold a grudge, not like her. I believe if we live as examples for others to follow, we can gently lead them to Christ. When they realize what kind of people we are and we find ways to share Jesus with them, we can win them over. With love. We should all do things with love and with gentleness. I’m talking to myself here, too. 😉
I love you guys!