Because Jesus Loves the Church, Part 2
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Paul encouraged the Philippian church to be like minded. How in the world could they or we achieve such a lofty goal when we all have strong opinions that often clash? He goes on to say that Christians need to be one in spirit and purpose, to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than themselves. He encourages us to look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:2-4). There is the key to cultivating a spirit of peace and unity in our local churches, that is recognizing that our ultimate purpose must be to glorify God, not ourselves. It’s not about us! We are ONE in Jesus. He is the common denominator. View your local church through the lens of eternity and conflicts through the grid of serving Jesus alone. Such focus helps transform our hearts so that out of them will flow springs of living water designed to cultivate life in our community.
Are you an integral part of a local church? If not, why not? If you are, be intentional in the way you persevere in cultivating community. A widow I had never met asked me for counsel in meeting physical and financial needs. She described herself as totally alone, without living parents, no siblings and one adult married child who lived far away. My first question was to ask her to describe her relationship to her local church. Her answer revealed that she had neglected to enjoy one of the most precious gifts God gives to us through His Son – community. In her season of greatest need, she was alone. The early Christians understood Paul’s exhortation that it would take endurance and encouragement to protect the unity of their community. They understood that God’s promises of strength, wisdom, support and presence would come through their local covenant community. Ask the Lord to show you practical ways you can cultivate the community of your local church so that it is a safe place for hurting people. Community happens, one relationship at a time. Who needs you to offer them life-giving encouragement today? Write their name in your journal and how you will reach out.
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go the the MARKINC website and listen to the Sexual Abuse audio resource so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
Numerous studies reveal that sexual abuse is rampant and the scars of betrayal go deep. In this transparent interview, Sharon Betters interviews Dr. Terry Eccles, who shares her own story of repeated abuse by her father and how she is finding freedom from the past.