How Good and Pleasant it is When God's People Live Together in Unity (Psalm 133:1)
While it’s nice to picture the body of Christ always living and working together peacefully, any Christian who has spent a significant amount of time with other believers knows that isn’t necessarily the case. Some of the biggest blessings, but also some of the most painful challenges in the Christian life, can come from our interactions with one another. We tend to want God as our Father, but secretly hope it doesn’t mean we have to get along with all of His children.
We might like to think this wouldn’t be the case at camp. After all, we are gathering for the express purpose of growing in Christ, worshiping God and enjoying HIs creation. But what happens when one of your fellow campers shatters your peaceful experience with a rude word or even an understanding of scripture or doctrine that differs from your own? What if you give up a week of vacation to serve at camp and your co-counselor decides you can chase after the kids while she flirts with the male counseling staff? (This has probably never happened at Camp Maranatha, of course).
What do you do?
This category of diseases can manifest in many ways, but the uniting factor is that one part of the body (the immune system) recognizes another part of the body as a hostile presence and responds by attacking. Depending on what is attacked, the body will suffer the effects of arthritis, lupus, sclera derma, multiple sclerosis and many more debilitating conditions.
Could it be that this is also what happens to the body of Christ, the church? Is this what happens to us when, instead of recognizing one another as parts of the same body, we see any weak or malfunctioning member as an enemy? Could this be categorized as a sort of spiritual autoimmune disease?
While doctors and other healthcare professionals experiment with a variety of methods to combat autoimmune disease in the body, we are not left to grapple in the dark for a cure to the spiritual autoimmune disease that attacks our churches, homes and camps. The words of Colossians 3:12-16 provide the antidote.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts
since as members of one body you were called to peace.
It’s interesting to note the word “let” in this passage. The peace of Christ is not something we can manufacture or even duplicate. No. We who are called to peace, must let His peace rule in our hearts.
As you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom
One of my favorite examples of teaching and admonishing “with all wisdom” is found in 2 Samuel 12. When God sent Nathan to confront David over his sin, Nathan didn’t simply let a specific verse flow out of him like “Thou shalt not commit adultery” or “Thou shalt not murder.” He didn’t quote scripture at all. Instead, he drew upon a rich storehouse of God’s word that apparently dwelt within him, to paint an emotional word picture designed to stir David’s own heart-connection to God. It seems there aren’t many of us who know how to teach and admonish one another with wisdom. We either toss out a bit of condemning scripture, ignore the issue or discuss it with just about everyone except for the offender. The approach called for in Colossians 3 isn’t easy. The peace that is to rule in our hearts is not exactly that “Peaceful, Easy Feeling” the Eagles once sang about. The peace of Christ is often a matter of long prayer and strategic planning.
And as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs
Maybe it seems a bit strange to list singing as part of the plan to admonish a Christian brother or sister, but have you ever noticed the themes that run through these kinds of songs? Unless I intentionally ignore the lyrics of hymns and spiritual songs or the words of the Psalms, I can’t sing for long without realizing:
I wonder if Paul might have sandwiched this bit about singing right in the middle of his section on Christian behavior to be sure I would first remember these two things:
1. No matter how impossible a situation (or even a person) may seem, the problem is never too great for God.
2. I can only correct my brother in the humility of one who has also fallen short of the glory of God.
With gratitude in your hearts to God
Although God’s people may never live together completely conflict-free (this side of heaven), as we let Him rule in our hearts, immerse ourselves in His word, sing His praises and wisely teach and admonish one another, we will find our hearts will be truly grateful to the God who has not only called us to peace, but has also supplied everything we need in order to enjoy it.
Now, why don’t we all let this bit of God’s word dwell within us and remember all that is at our disposal the next time we find ourselves on the wrong end of a Camp Maranatha pillow fight?
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.