Friendship within the Body of Christ
“On hearing it, many of the disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life, the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.”
For Jesus knew from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”
From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. John 6:60-66
As a prisoner for the Lord, then I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 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. There is one body and one Spirit just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith one baptism one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:1-6
Relationships can be difficult.
Sometimes, we get “ticked off” with a friend and our reaction may be to cut off the relationship because they have offended us. We may think to ourselves, “my life is very busy and I don’t have time for people who irritate me, grumble all the time or are depressing to be around.”
We may think that it is the other person’s responsibility to say that they are “sorry” since they offended us! Sometimes, we are so exhausted from dealing with the person that we just need a break. Then again, sometimes it is our own insecurities and fears that cause us to step away, fearful that the other person may discover something we have hidden too deep for others to know.
Whatever the reason, God created us to love Him and to be in relationship with one another for His Glory. Our job is to prayerfully love and encourage those who God wants us to be in relationship with and to seek His Will in that relationship.
If a relationship is with someone who we know is a member of the Body of Christ then we have increased obligations.
We, as the Body of Christ, did not create ourselves. We were drawn into a relationship with Jesus by God himself. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him”. When we finally come to Christ, it is a miraculous event – being drawn by God and enabled by God to believe in Jesus sets us apart. Therefore, those who are set apart by God for Jesus are also set apart by God for other believers – the Body of Christ.
This is a extraordinary group – each member drawn by God to be in relationship with other members of the same “Body” which in turn is to be God’s hands and feet on this earth. Each person is essential to the Body’s function. Each person is specially made to contribute in a unique way to the Body. The Body is God’s creation. It should be handled with great care.
So why is it that we struggle with the very people God drew into His Body? Remember there is evil afoot! Satan likes nothing better than to disrupt the work of the Body of Christ. He does this by tempting us – preying on our pride, our insecurities, our past hurts and present struggles in an attempt to divert our attention from God.
It can be difficult work to maintain a relationship with someone who is challenging our sensibilities – but God uses all sorts of people and allows challenges to refine us so we can be more productive members of the Body. Sometimes it is the relationships that challenge us the most that also bring us closer to Jesus.
If we are at odds with someone who we know is part of the Body of Christ, then it is a relationship by definition that we need to carefully, gracefully and prayerfully seek to peacefully preserve.
It is not to say that we are called to be “bosom buddies” with all Christians. However, we are called to be in a respectful, grace-filled, peaceful relationship that builds up the Body of Christ instead of tears it down.
When the Body of Christ is a cohesive group, strengthening each other with encouragement and loving each other with unending grace (like Jesus loves us), then we are a powerful instrument to bring Glory to God.
When the Body of Christ is a fractured group, competing with each other for power and refusing to give each other the benefit of the doubt, then we have gone the way of the disciples who turned their back on Jesus and no longer followed Him.
My prayer for us in this coming week is that we prayerfully and gracefully seek resolution of conflict with members of the Body of Christ who God has placed in our paths. You never know – it might be the catalyst for the miracle we are waiting for!