Thank God for you! – February 9th, 2019

The blessings of unity…

Our relationship with Jesus is always in the forefront of our thinking as we focus on the scripture. Rightly so, because this relationship we have with Him sits at the core of our purpose for being. Let’s not become so captivated in our pursuit of the master we do not recognize our brothers and sisters.

There is a blessing of unity in the Body of Christ.

I will admit, at one point in my Christian life, I had the attitude that “my church” was THE CHURCH and any other church would be better off to follow our lead. I had become so engaged with the local Body of Christ that I did not realize that we are all members of the same body. In my thinking ‘The Body’, was contained within the four walls of my church and that was it.

Narrow minded and extreme to be sure and scripturally incorrect!

We should thank God for ‘the others’

We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, since your faith is flourishing and the love each one of you has for one another is increasing.

2 Thessalonians 1:3 (CSB)

Something that our church took part in a few years back, which I really wish we would pick up again in some form, was something we called “The Fifth Sunday”.  

Each quarter (3 months) has thirteen weeks. Two of those months will have four weeks in them while one will end up with a fifth. Here is the math, ‘three months, times four weeks, equals twelve weeks in total’, four goes into thirteen, three times, so we end up with one week which doesn’t fit. That stray week has to go somewhere! And that is where we get the “Fifth Sunday”.

If I remember correctly, we had about six different churches participating in this quarterly event. The way it worked was that one church was designated as ‘host’ for a specific event and another church’s pastor would provide the message.

On a Sunday afternoon, approaching supper time, we’d all get together at the host church. The worship leader for the host church (or praise team) would lead the singing. Then the ‘guest pastor’ from one of the other churches would give a message of encouragement to the body assembled together. Afterwards the ‘host church’ would provide a light meal for those who were in attendance.

I had never seen this done before and though I had learned at that point that all believers are part of this body that is Christ Jesus, the unity message of that never sunk in quite as well as it should have, until I saw it shown in our practice of observing “The Fifth Sunday”.

While I miss that gathering, the lesson it taught me by demonstration was that it really doesn’t matter what denomination you are from, the church you attend, or the country you live in, if we have faith in the sacrifice of the one we all recognize as the Son of God, we are brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.

We may differ in how we apply the scripture in our walk as we take up our cross and follow the Master, but we are all following the Master. The debate of who is following closer than the next is a ridiculous wedge of division, the enemy uses to cause fracturing in the body and separation of the faithful.

How deep this love is to go is remarkable. It should challenge each one of us to strive to engage and embrace each other more. And not just a little but with all our hearts and souls.

“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:34-35 (CSB)

Just in case you didn’t realize this ‘command’ given us by Jesus wasn’t restricted only to those in our fellowship at church. It’s not limited to our little click we are a part of.  This is the means we identify with Christ and the world can recognize us as His disciples, directly because of this love!

How utterly critical it is that we love our brothers and sisters in the Lord!

If we understand that ‘we are called to be disciples of Jesus’, then we have no other recourse but to love those who have surrendered their lives to Him just as we have.

Yes, we could go into how we should love all people, but this command directs us so far beyond having compassion and care for humanity. We are specifically told by the Master that we are to “Love one another. Just as I have loved you”.

When I realized this, I had to ask for forgiveness for when I despairingly joked about driving by the church I referred to as “Six Flags over Jesus”. They had displayed several flags to represent the countries that their efforts for missions had reached. There were a lot of flags with the flag of Christ waving highest above them all.

My comment and attitude were shameful.

“This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you.”

John 15:12 (CSB)

Are we doing that?

Are we loving one another just as Jesus loves us? I don’t think we are. I don’t think many of us will ever achieve the level of love where we would sacrifice ourselves for our brothers and sisters.  Even if we were to do that, we cannot exceed the love of Christ for us.

Why do you ask?

While Jesus died for every one of us, unlike us, we do not understand the future short of what God has revealed in His Word. Jesus, The Word, was in the beginning and even though it was crystal clear to Him the creation He was about to craft out of nothingness, would betray him, He loved us. He loved us despite the sin and depravity He knew we would flaunt in His face. He loved us despite knowing this act of creation would set into motion the events and consequences that would have Him hang on a cross, shedding His blood, for a world that spat upon Him.

We cannot love to that extent, choosing death and separation from His father He had never experienced, for a creation He knew would betray Him. We can’t love like that.

But even though we can’t, it doesn’t give us an excuse not to love our brothers and sisters with all our hearts and souls because Jesus used the illustration of His love to convey that we are to love each other with total abandon. With no reservation.

“Come, let us settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are crimson red, they will be like wool.”

Isaiah 1:18 (CSB)

He died for all of us. We are not unique in that any of us has been granted a greater portion of His Grace than the next one. We are all one body in Christ Jesus, and we are to function in that body as parts that support the whole. We do that through our love for each other.

Therefore, I “Thank God for you!”

In His Grace,
Kip…

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