How do you interact with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? Do you find it difficult to live peacefully with other believers? Steph Nickel encourages us to grow in the Lord as a community of believers, seeking to be reconciled with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Grievances And Judging
First Corinthians 6:1-5 says, “When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers?”
This passage contains some harsh words, but I believe there is much we can learn from it.
Last time we talked about how Paul responded to being reviled, persecuted, and slandered; what he did when others declared him to be nothing more than the scum of the earth, refuse even. It was more important to him that the gospel be proclaimed wherever he found himself.
Disagreements, Disputes, Divisions
I think of today’s passage in the same way. What are we saying to unbelievers if we in the church aren’t able to work out our disagreements, disputes, and divisions?
After all, it says in John 13:35 that others will know we are Jesus’ disciples, His followers, if we love one another. We don’t have to agree about everything, but we are called to love.
And in 2 Corinthians 5:18, we read, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”
It surprises me that those who have been believers for many, many years still harbour negativity toward one another. Mind you, it shouldn’t surprise me.
Interacting With Our Brothers And Sisters In Christ
Although I came to faith when I was just a young child, it has only been within the last five or so years that the truth of how we are to view our brothers and sisters in Christ, how we are to speak about them, and how we are to interact with them has really become clear on a deep and personal level.
I pray that others will come to the same understanding. If they knew how freeing it is, I’m sure they would want to pursue it as well.
Over the years, I have been very judgmental. I am so thankful that God hasn’t given up on me and that His Word comes alive as I study it and as I avail myself of eye-opening teachings—both written and spoken.
I realize this passage from 1 Corinthians is referring to serious issues among believers—issues far more intense than I have experienced personally. These verses admonish us, as much as is possible, to settle our differences “in house.” We may have to seek wise counsel from mature, insightful believers. We may need to pray long and hard, which, of course is always a good idea. We may have to endure heartache, pain, and injustice on the path to healing and reconciliation. But God can use all of it to bring Himself honour and glory and to further His kingdom. And as it says in Romans 8:28, He will use it all for our good.
Growing As a Community Of Believers
Now, while I didn’t share my thoughts on 1 Corinthians 5, it has a lot to say about those within the church who are living sinful lives. This chapter—and other scripture passages—make it clear that we are not to associate with those who call themselves Christian but are living blatantly ungodly lives. But that’s not what we’re talking about today.
It isn’t a question of whether we’ll revert to the world’s way of doing things from time to time. After all, we’re on a lifelong journey to grow more Christlike as a community of believers. There is a difference between a person who sins and repents and one who has no determination or desire to set aside ungodly behaviour.
Consider for a moment King David. He sinned repeatedly (by committing adultery and having Bathsheba’s husband killed, for example), but when he became aware of his sin, he was truly repentant. Because this was the case, he was declared in Acts 13:22 to be a man after God’s heart.
And consider all the shortcoming of Abraham, misleading others about the nature of his relationship with his wife for example—not once, but twice. Plus, he fathered a son with his wife’s servant despite the fact that the Lord made it clear that he and Sarah would have a child. And yet, Romans 4:20 says, “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God.”
Seeking to Be Reconciled
God clearly sees things differently than we do.
For further study, I encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 6:1-8.
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