Have you been wounded by another Christian? Perhaps someone who goes to your church? How do we handle it when those who are supposed to love and support us injure us?
Should we abandon going to church altogether?
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Paul writes this to the Christians in Rome, warning them against arrogance. Some have more visible gifts whereas some have gifts that are frequently done in secret. He recognized that they had started comparing themselves to each other and wanted to warm them against continuing in that mindset.
It is common for us to measure ourselves against others. We do it constantly- how much money we make compared to others, whether we are more physically thin or fit than others, the clothes we wear, the houses we live in, the cars we drive, the leadership positions we have or don’t have in the church, etc.
Sometimes in the corner of our mind as we meet people and interact with them, we can be tallying ourselves versus them to see who comes out on top. (I can remember times when I have done this.)
We are supposed to think of ourselves with sober judgment. What does that mean? Some of the definitions I came across said sedate, gravely, or earnestly thoughtful. We have a tendency to make excuses for ourselves but not for others. Obviously Paul is aware of this when he calls us to be wary of thinking well of ourselves and/or our gifts.
In John 13:3- When Jesus knew that all things had been placed under his feet- what did he do first? What was his first act with the knowledge that He had come from God and was returning to God? He bent down on his knees and washed the disciples feet.
Our heart should be to serve in love.
When you have been hurt by someone in the church, do you talk to them about it, or avoid them and let that wound fester and further estrange you from them? What if they are not aware that you feel hurt? We all say insensitive things at times, not realizing the potential damage our words can do. Look at James 3- and read about how our tongue is a restless evil.
How do we handle it when we see awkwardness between us and someone else in the church? Do we seek peace- as much as it depends on us?
We cannot control the thoughts and actions of others- but we can choose to address any hurts that we see, that we have contributed to- and seek peace and unity with others in our body.
As we consider how much Christ has done for us(in view of God’s mercy (Romans 12:1)). We all have a debt greater than we can repay- and yet God has paid it for us. The sins we struggle with differ, our gifts differ- but we all have received the same mercy and forgiveness through the blood of Christ.
We need each other. We cannot all be hands, we cannot all be hearts.
In the church we all have roles to play. We have been uniquely made by God to fulfill a specific purpose that others cannot do as effectively as we can when we submit ourselves to God. There are people who we can reach- uniquely based on our personality and our strengths- that someone else would not be able to minister to as effectively.
C.S. Lewis says, “God has an annoying way of reaching people who I don’t approve of.”
Why do you think the church is full of such a diverse group of people? Have you experienced the joy of fellowship with someone who is very different from you- in personality, strengths, appearance? Are there portions of the body of Christ that you avoid fellowship with?
We should not avoid people who are different from us- this can be an opportunity for God to teach us about truly loving and seeking unity in the family of Christ. It is natural to gravitate toward people who are like us- take a step out in faith to interact with someone new at church this week- to get to know them- invite them to lunch.
We grow in unity by serving each other for Christ’s sake. Do not worry about whether you truly love before you serve- instead commit yourself to be willing to be used by God and trust that He will build that love in you as you obey His calling in your service.
So when you start to think…”I am better at this than…” STOP that thought.
“Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become “unity” conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship. Social religion is perfected when private religion is purified.” A.W. Tozer The Pursuit of God