I have been getting so many responses from my comments on other's blogs that had the theme of, "oh randi your love for The Body is so strong and beautiful".... and I didn't know what to think of those responses except, "really?" I wasn't even trying to portray that message... but somehow my love for The Body shone through.....I DO LOVE the Body of Christ.... BUT
I know myself, and I know how imperfect I have been in relationships with others. I have sinful moments of selfishness & let frustration & discouragement take over when dealing with individuals. Sometimes I do assume the worst in others without giving them the benefit of the doubt. In my past, I have actually had some really deep issues with a few relationships in The Body (LBF, if you read this... I love you sister. I pray that someday God can bring restoration into our relationship and fill us up with love for each other). I have not shown grace & mercy to others when needed. I am impatient and want to change others, rather than letting the Spirit do His work. More times than I want to think about, I have taken my eyes of God therefore leaving room for the devil to plant seeds in my heart which carried over into my relationships which resulted in harsh words, tones & attitudes.
BUT despite my own failings, I absolutely am determined to do whatever I can to have strong and healthy relations in the Body. I don't believe there's a higher calling for us as The Body but to love each other. To focus on the good in each other. To love The Body as a whole and to love the individual parts of the Body we are in contact with. That's the testimony we should be showing to others outside of the Body who see enough conflict, hatred, animosity, judgement, disunity and exclusivity in the world all around us.
Love doesn't come in the form of perfect peace & harmony & smily hugs at all times. It comes in the form of disagreements, butting heads & conflicting.... yet growing closer somehow in the long term because of our desire to not give up on the relationships. It comes in the form of acceptance of people very different from us. Growing stronger together because of our unification in Christ. It comes in the form of seeing imperfections in each other yet loving each other exactly as we are. It comes in the form of enough faith in the transforming power of the Spirit to do His work and to just be patient while He does His thing. Having faith for each other when we are weak. Lifting each other up when we're discouraged. Praying for each other.
Love for The Body as an entity comes in the same forms. Patience. Never judging another part of The Body's spiritual maturity by whatever criteria or factors we choose. Focusing on the good in each other. Praying for each other. Believing in The Body as a whole. Believing in God that He will transform and mold us. Conflicting in different areas of The Body yet getting over it somehow. Focusing on our unification in Christ. Seeing imperfections in each other yet loving each other exactly as we are.
My spiritual mentor to this day although she is no longer with us, is my grandma, who passed on in May 2007. She was the one who showed me never to give up on The Body. Never to stop attending church in some form. She went through a heck of a lot in her years with The Body. She saw a lot of stuff in the Body I pray I never see --- but she never gave up on it.
God please help people who aren't part of The Body see how much we love each other. Help us exude patience, mercy, love, and acceptance. I desire so strongly for my life to glorify God by living up to the 2 greatest commandments we are to follow:
'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Matthew 22:37-39
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. I Peter 4:8
We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. 2 Thes 1:3
Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. I Thes 5:13
Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. I Thes 4:9
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. I Thes 3:12
I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 2 Cor 8:8
The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Romans 13:9
This is my command: Love each other John 15:17
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:12
Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Psalm 85:10
I truly believe the best antecdote when we find ourselves lacking love for The Body is time away in solitude with God. Asking Him to fill us back up with love for each other. Asking Him to please step in the gap for us and be the bridge to others. Usually when we talk about "building a bridge" we're talking about people in vs. people out of The Body -- but we need bridges within the Body!
Remember we are not connected to God through The Body. We are connected to The Body through God.
I believe when we are full of animosity toward any people or person, we should pour out our hearts and frustrations and negatives to Him and ask Him to somehow fill us with love & patience & peace & mercy & faith. Not to ignore our frustrations, but to talk to Him first and above all... about the issues you are facing to find out if you're supposed to act on what you're seeing or simply allow Him to do His work and take it in as information for a later time. Sometimes in rare cases He will ask us to act... but many times He will ask us to be patient, pray, focus on the good we see and to be the example.
As 2 people in The Body move closer to God, they are automatically drawn closer to each other.... for more thoughts on that idea, there's some thoughts in the middle paragraph on this post....
God please fill me with love for those that hurt me. For those I am impatient with. For those I wish to see changed now rather than later. Please fill up the hearts of those that I have hurt. Please God ease my discouragement over things I see wrong. Help me trust you that you're at work. Please God help us as a Body cling tighter. Help us glorify you in a world full of everything but love, acceptance & unity. Help us recognize how much power there is in unity and that Christ is the ultimate unifier. May people look at us and see a Body they would want to be apart of because whether we like it or not & whether we claim it or not, as followers of Christ, we are all a family. I pray that none of my friends will get discouraged enough to the point of giving up.
photo by MomMom