John 13:34-35 (Aramaic Bible In Plain English), “I give a new commandment to you: ‘Love one another; just as I have loved you, you should also love one another.’ Every person will know by this that you are my disciples, if you shall have love one to the other.”
Matthew 5:9 (KJB), “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”
Jesus clearly tells us in these two scriptures how we know if we are truly His. In fact it’s a command of the Father that we love one another, not a suggestion, and not just a good idea.
So you would think that we could take a look around us, in the world, and especially in our own churches, and see who belongs to Him.
Unfortunately, this isn’t true.
Most of the time the only sign that a person is a Christian is their t-shirt or bumper sticker, and then still we doubt what our eyes are telling us. Walk into any church and it won’t take long to see the separation of “us” and “them,” the tension between certain people, or even worse, hostility between the leaders and the congregation. This shouldn’t be so!
Reading through the Old Testament, we see many times where God destroyed the enemy armies by filling them with confusion and they turned on one another, “they all helped to destroy one another..” (II Chronicles 20:23).
When I read that part in II Chronicles this week, I said to the Lord, “that sound a lot like us.” I happen to be going through a time when a member of my church is telling lies about me. The leadership and the Pastor’s are handling it, but it still hurts. I hate division in the church and have done many things, including correcting others, when it tried to come in. I assume that is why the enemy has chosen to attack in that way. Now, before I sound self-righteous and holier than thou, let me say, I have done my share of gossiping and back biting over the years. Thankfully God dealt with me and it isn’t an issue anymore. In fact it makes me sick to think about us behaving this way. Jesus says that He is returning for a bride without spot or wrinkle. This devouring one another is a huge spot, an un-iron-able wrinkle. Why do we want to do the enemies work for him?
Let’s take a look at Paul’s warning to the church in Galatia:
Galatians 5:13-15 (NIV), “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.”
How do we remedy this sickness in the body of Christ? First, love one another! I hear you saying, “but they are so mean…they have body odor…they said this about me…etc.” So what! Love is a choice, not a feeling. The choice can bring great feelings, true, but love is not just an emotion, if it was God wouldn’t have commanded us to love. Love is an action, it’s the way we think about, and the way we treat others. We need to be slow to anger and quick to forgive. We need to not get easily offended. It’s not an option. How can we win others to Christ when we are busy destroying unity in the body? Proverbs tells us only a foolish woman tears her own house down.
Next, we need to be led by the Holy Spirit. He is the one who “shed’s abroad” the love of God in our hearts. That’s how I can still love the person who tried to stir up division in our church, the very one who has lied about me.
Galatians 5 continues on with this:
Galatians 5:16, 22-25 (NLT), “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves…But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.”
We all love hearing about the Fruit of the Spirit. It’s how we expect people to behave, how we want them to treat us, looking at the world and judging them by their lack of fruit. But, Paul was talking to Christians, to us. Taking it in context of how it was written, he is correcting their treatment of one another!
Another thing I have learned over the years is that the best way to get over an issue you have with someone is to pray for them. Not a “God get ‘em” prayer, but really intercede for them. Ask God to forgive them, pray for their well being, and bless them. You may have to ask God to show you His heart for that person. I have had to ask the Father for His love when I couldn’t find any of my own. I still chose to love.
That is how I am still married after thirty years, why I still attend the same church after two splits, and why I continue to love and pray for those who despitefully use me. (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:28).
Take a look at your life, a real good look, and ask yourself “Am I His?”