We will get back to the meta narrative on Sunday. We shifted Sunday and I don’t want to get a week ahead here in our devos so we are waiting for Sunday to continue in that 🙂
1 Corinthians 13 1If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Again we find the word AGAPE. Paul tells the Corinthians Church that above ALL the gifts given by the Spirit, AGAPE stands above them. AGAPE is what Romans 5:8 and 10 refers to when it says: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” and “while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son.” God says, through Paul, that we are to be patient, kind, not boastful, not proud, not dishonoring, not selfish, not easily angered, not keeping track of people offending us… this is blatantly clear, and it says these are more important than our “religious” things, more important than our Spiritual gifts… We are to protect, trust, hope, and preserve… That means seeking unity above division!
Yet again, here we are as an church thinking that tearing people down and dividing families, churches, and cities over concerns about righteousness is the way to go. The Bible makes it CLEAR that God does not want that. Now it also makes it clear that God doesn’t want us to continue in sin. So how do we reconcile this? One side of the church has thrown out one clear passage for the other, and the other side has done the same.
The way to reconcile it is this: love EVERYONE and disciple those who you are a shepherd to. IT’s that easy… You cannot discipline someone you have no relationship with. We know that to be true when it comes to children. Even in their young minds we see them being willing to take discipline from their parents and it not ruin their relationship. There’s times when a child is spanked multiple times a day, yet the next day they wake up completely adoring their parents. Yet when another kid hits that child you have to work and work to make sure your child doesn’t hate the kid forever. This is the way it is with adults too! We have to build a relationship before we discipline someone… so love everyone, build the relationship, THEN disciple them. That’s the easiest way to reconcile these issues!
Now, I am not saying AVOID trusting the Spirit. The even easier reconciliation of this is to do all things with the Spirit’s guidance. That means knowing the Word though. You should know what the Spirit sounds like. He sounds like love, unity, patience, kindness…. the same things love displays 😉 HOWEVER there may be times when the Spirit nudges you to step out and remind someone of a difficult truth when they don’t have the closest relationship with you. Yet this is an outlier, not a norm. If you are characterized by tearing people down who aren’t “sinless” then you will likely find your words to be useless now. You should be characterized by love and there should be a thread of tough love in there. This is not how MOST Christians function though. We are generally super legalistic and have a tiny thread of Love.
We must continue leading our congregations to flee their sin. Lead them, those we build relationships with we must lead, and do so with love. We must also remind the world that there is something better, and that sin is not killing them, but doing so in love and assuring we aren’t just beating people to death with the law and pretending that is love. It is simple, but difficult. Lead our family, and invite the lost in.
Spend 1 minute thanking God for drawing you in when you were still an enemy. Then spend 2-3 minutes asking God to guide you in how to navigate this difficult paradigm.
Love people, be patient with people, reach out to someone you have been impatient with and try to fix the relationship. Don’t hesitate to apologize often. If you have been unloving towards someone FIX IT! 😀