"Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." Ephesians 4:15-16
One of the things I think that we may struggle with from time to time, as Christians, is how to correct someone who may be doing or saying something wrong. Or not even correct them- how do you tell someone they are doing something wrong- without having them get upset with you or offended, and that can lead to a broken friendship.
This type of thing used to keep me up at night. I would lay in bed at night and play these imaginary conversations in my head where I would bring up a problem to someone and try and tell them how to correct it. Surely I'm not the only one who has imaginary conversations in my head that don't ever really happen? Well, a while back I was in a place where someone maybe needed correction about an issue, but I just wasn't so sure that I was the person to do it- so do you know what I did? I prayed about it. I first committed the whole problem to God. I asked Him for wisdom, and I asked Him to keep my mouth shut if it needed to stay shut. But the most important thing I asked God for was to help me love that person the way he loves them. Then I started playing a little game with myself. Instead of thinking about this problem, this area that needed correction, I started thinking to myself all the different reasons why I love this person- reasons why I consider them a friend.
And do you know what happened? Over time, I stopped focusing on the issue at hand, and just focused on the person. I sought them out to give an encouraging word or a hug, and then the most crazy thing happened. That problem? They came to me asking for advice about the situation. I was able to offer a gentle suggestion, in love, along with a promise to commit the matter to prayer- which was truth since I'd already been doing it. Then, later on when the problem was resolved we were able to rejoice in it together!
The thing is, each and every member of the body of Christ is joined together- we are one with each other, and when we allow things to come between us, it strains the whole body- not just the person or two it is involved with. Think about the physical body. When I have a headache, it doesn't just affect my head. It affects my performance in everything else, it affects my reaction time, and my mood. It's much more than just a headache. Somewhere along the line we've been fed a load of garbage that tells us that there will be troubles and problems with our brothers and sisters in Christ. It's like we almost expect that there will be people we just don't get along with- because that's how it's always been. I think many of us spent time in churches where that truly was the norm, and now maybe we think it's just part of being a member of a church.
But it's not!!! We are to build each other up in love! When love is the first thing that comes out of us, those disagreements and those arguments we may have begin to melt away. Those walls that we build up to keep people out start to fall down, and a body united is a body that will be unstoppable for the kingdom of God! When we truly grab hold of this idea and begin to lift each and every one of our fellow Christians up, instead of looking for reasons to pull them down, we will experience a whole new era of brotherhood. Instead of focusing on what we think are the flaws, we need to focus on what we love. Focus on what God loves. The next time you find yourself rolling your eyes about someone or thinking about how much you really don't like a person, start telling yourself that God loves them. God loves them and created them to be exactly who they are.
And that mindset extends beyond the boundaries of the body of Christ. God loves each and every person that He has created. Every. Single. One. Think about that the next time you are thinking unwholesome thoughts about that driver who cut you off. You're sitting there fuming and swearing at one of God's precious creations... maybe it's time for a shift in thinking?