If we are ever going to fix the mess known as the present day church we must begin with application of the 4th Chapter of Ephesians.
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3
In the previous post I focused on our pettiness toward each other and confession and forgiveness of one another. Each of the imperatives in Eph. 4:1-3 cannot be accomplished apart from the heart. Of course a person can fake being humble and gentle but not long term. Eventually the "real you" will squish out around the edges.
What is asked, no commanded of us is to be diligent in preserving the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (V 3) If we are diligent about something it means we are continuing to make an effort. We have to make an effort to effect heart change! Of course, it is first and primarily a work of the Holy Spirit for He is the Agent of Change. You and I must begin to respond rightly to His promptings, conviction, and leadership. This is done through the memorizing and meditation of Scripture and then when it is brought to mind by the Spirit acting on it.
Tolerating idiosyncrasies is much easier when the attitude of the heart is focused on being loving.
1 Corinthians 16:14 says, "Let all that you do be done in love." Love was the motivation for your salvation (Eph. 1:4) and it is how we are to build up this body (Eph 4:16). Love must come before programs, and outreach and service projects- it must come before it all or the work is useless.
We must speak the truth in love to one another, ( Eph 4:15) even when it is hard. Sometimes we manage the truth part, but we are far less than loving about it. Our words to one another are vicious and we intend to hurt with them and it seems that if we can't say what needs to be said in a hurtful manner we avoid it totally! This is not what Paul intended. We are instructed to speak spiritual truth to one another to help each other grow to be more like Christ. As we do this the body of Christ matures and grows stronger and it becomes more difficult to feed wrong doctrine to the church.
We are to walk in this love, and it is to be a way of life with each of us! Can you say that about yourself? Do you endeavor to walk in love in your relationships at church? Some people are just plain hard to get along with, I understand. But are we to hate them? Avoid them? Gossip about them and go out of our way to be difficult or to complicate their lives? Ephesians 5:1 says, "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma."
I suspect that much of the "love" we show one another is not as sacrificial or loving as we might like to thing it is. I also wonder how fragrant it is to Him.
You see, none of this is about us, it is about Him. It is about Jesus Christ. You and I and the other people in our fellowships are to be representing Him to the rest of the world. We are supposed to be Ambassadors for Christ, representing Him in this foreign land. We are commissioned to display Christ in such a way that other people want what we have!
As you reflect on your relationships with others please examine them in the light of Scripture and in light of your Ambassadorship for Christ. If you were on the outside looking in, would you want what you see being offered as "Christian?"