Dec 3, 2010
You lay your gift at your altar, and I will lay my gift at mine.
In light of a recent discussion with a brother concerning how brethren are to treat one another when disagreement arises, I would like to re-post my thoughts on the matter from 2008. They are still the same as I have indicated here, and I still find it amazing that we seldom practice what we 'preach.'
An interesting thing has occurred to me. So many of us believe that we fully grasp the consequences of our actions before we make decisions. So many times does this behavior incessantly repeat itself. On the contrary, the Christian, should learn from the mistakes that have been made. The benefit would then be applying the lesson learned from the consequence to any actions thereafter. So what of the behavior that causes tension amongst members of the body of Christ? When bad decisions are made, consequences occur, and chastisement (by the Lord) follows, what then? Does the failure to make the right decision warrant excommunication of the offender? To what degree and extent are consequences to be carried out?
Mat 5:24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.
So reading in Matthew, I observe the teachings of Christ, and the principle of reconciliation toward others when offense has occurred. Now I would ask the question, if you are making offerings up to God by way of worship, are you doing so without offense to God, or are you offending God by your worship for leaving such matters unattended? Or is it downright apathy and a willful choice to ignore it until it goes away?
On to the last part of my concern. In the case of division, and the clear cut obvious nature of it's existence, what is to be done next? Division is clearly defined as being a separation between two things. Whether these things be people, places, or things, they are no longer in unification or like-mindedness. The Greek word σχίσμα (schisma), is the root word from which we base our own English word schism. It is a metaphorical definition of division or dissension. In reference to I Corinthians 12:25 this point comes home in a full thrust. Paul was instructing the Corinthian Christians to treat each other (as different as they may be) and care for each other the same as those who were similar. The attitude toward the gifts of others or the lack thereof is to be the same. We grieve when others are afficted, and we rejoice when others are exalted, all this we do as if it were occurring to us. This is unity amongst the brethren in the spiritual sense. Not a denominational, creedal, or formal allegiance. But in a purposeful, intentional, and cohesive bond that is unbreakable because it exists in the whole that is Christ's body. Existing eternally for His glory and Temporaly for His purposes.
What's my point? Well, I would ask that if you preach Christ crucified, reconciliation of sinners toward God, and a righteous standard of living, then you should also exhibit that in your personal relationships with others. And where we fall terribly short (I do all the time), we attempt to correct the behavior, learn from it, and move on. Furthering our purpose, unison, and commission in the same spirit without division. If we are considering the differences of our brothers and their shortcomings when interacting with the body, we are also considering our own. This should be of the first things we consider before we cast our stones (or apathy) at each other.