"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. " Ephesians 4:2-3
"For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us." Romans 12:4-6
" For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ...." 1 Corinthians 12:12-27
These verses were heavy on my heart/mind today. With my classes I've been using different informational texts for Black history month. We've had some good discussions about the injustices and unfairnesses that occurred and have occurred through history. Today one particular text led to a discussion on bullies. I found an article that talked about different reasons why people bully others. One of the reasons is that the bully perceives the victim as different in some way - smarter, weaker, whiter, blacker, more easy going, more anxious, etc. The bully might have a big ego and think he/she is better than anyone else, that his/her ways are the best ways or the only ways. The bully might be jealous and have a problem with low self-esteem. There could even be a pack situation.
So here we are in the Body of Christ, a collective of broken people who recognize their need of a Savior. People from all kinds of walks of life come together, called by God, at all different places in their spiritual growth. People with all sorts of different gifts. People with all sorts of different ways of doing things. People who are different from each other. Sometimes very different. Now, whoa, wait - can you figure out what I might be getting at? Bullies within the body. The Apostle Paul must have dealt with this - he writes in 1 Corinthians 12 "The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together."
We are not going to be just like each other. Some of us may have old habits or behaviors that need the Holy Spirit - or we ourselves may have them and someone else's actions are revealing our personal not-so-good-junk in our reactions. They may want us to be clones of them or we may want them to do things our way. BUT the body needs eyes, it needs knees, it needs hands, feet, ears... It needs some of the parts that some may find less than presentable. This is where being completely humble and gentle comes in. We need to be patient with others and pray that they are patient with us. We need to humbly realize that we, too, are imperfect and should bear with each other in love. It is our responsibility to make every effort to keep the unity in peace. We are not the same and YET we are loved by our Lord and should love one another.
As I was writing this, one of my graduate school classmates shared a fantastic devotion with my from John Piper's "Desiring God" page, featuring Philippians 4:6 and 4:19. Don't be anxious, make sure that in all things you pray with thankfulness and let your requests be known to God and rest assured that God will supply all your need out of His riches. Therefore, if you want unity - ask. If you want to be accepted, understood and treated with compassion, pray. If you might be reacting with a less than humble and gentle spirit to another member of the body, present your problem to God. He will supply you with what you need to overcome the battle you are in. Now, it is a shame, that sometimes we must feel like we are in a battle with other members of the same body but again, this is apparently a thing that has gone on since the early church. Nothing is new. People are people and until we meet our Lord, we are bound to experience friction. We must patiently and prayerfully allow the Lord to knit us together.
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