For today’s Monday Minute, Jennifer shares with us what God has been teaching her about living life with one another in community.
Living Life with One Another
by Jennifer Wake
“Mom, those people are really angry. Aren’t we supposed to be loving?”
This was the start of a long conversation after a church meeting a few years ago. My daughter’s question touched my heart deeply as I watched several Christian leaders attack other Christians in front of our post leadership. Our later discussion helped my daughter understand that even though these people were church leaders, their actions and words did not follow God’s Word.
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
God Shows us How to Live with One Another
During the conversation, I repeatedly reminded my daughter that my temper gets the better of me sometimes, way more often than I care to admit. We talked about how Christians are supposed to act. Romans 12:10 reads, “love one another with brotherly affection.” This brotherly affection is translated as being loving to family members. Deep love that forgives. I know that not all families act civilly to each other but the Christian family is supposed to love each other deeply.
The meeting at the church lasted several hours with people claiming they had forgiven but their faces and body language said otherwise. The people in the room who did not attend church were shocked by the terrible way these leaders acted. The leaders did not show honor and their love was not apparent. They offered prayers but showed no grace.
After the meeting, many people in the church started praying for the leadership. Prayers for healing, restoration, peace, and forgiveness.
Slowly hearts began to change.
Very slowly people started to forgive. Many people left the church never to return. New people came to church, some even started coming regularly. Lives began to change.
My discussion with my daughter about their behavior allowed God to speak to me to remind me that I judge people. I often can be the one to cast the first stone in judgment of believers around me. Although my daughter learned a great deal about church leaders, I learned even more about my heart. My heart is quick to judge, to hold grudges, to lack love. I hold onto offenses and feel the root of bitterness or judgment growing in my heart.
That day has become a sobering experience for me. Since watching that display of hatred and bitterness, I now more quickly catch myself becoming judgmental and offended. Each morning I study God’s Word and pray that he would remind me of my sins. He corrects my vision of my heart and shows me where I need to change. He also challenges me to show honor to everyone. I am trying to be patient in tribulations and be constant in prayer. This set of verses is truly a challenge for me in so many ways.
The Constant Challenge of Living Life in Community
Now don’t for a minute think this is easy; I fight God every step. Just when I think I am doing better, someone will do something and I spin right back down to where I was. I don’t think I hate people the way we saw at the meeting, but when I see people being persecuted or hurt I feel a dislike well up in my soul, which, unchecked, can turn into hatred.
As we start out 2020, I want to live life together with those around me in harmony, the way God wants me to. Look back at Romans 12:9-13. What part of these verses is the hardest for you? If I am honest, every part of these four verses shows me what I still need to work on. Someday I might pray constantly without needing reminders, but right now I rely on them to help me remember to pray. I do show hospitality but I know I can show more grace and forgiveness to those near me.
Read: Acts 6:1-7
Reflect: Even the early church experienced problems between members. How did the disciples handle problems? What attributes were important?
Respond: How can you handle tense situations differently? What can you do to prepare for challenges within the church?
Lord, constantly remind me to turn to you and away from anger and hurt. Please let peace and forgiveness reign in my heart. Amen.
1 Timothy 6:3-5
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