Galatian 4:1-6 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
We often talk about the need to being more like “The New Testament church”, as if that church had their act together in all regards. Read the Pauline epistles or the letters that Peter and John wrote. Those Christians had a lot of the same flaws we have—some of their bad behavior was rather scandalous!
But there is one thing they had and one thing that they did, that we lack: They had men like Paul, Peter, John, Barnabas, Stephen and other apostles and leaders that had the passion for Christ and the backbone to courageously, and graciously, remind the good folks in the Church what they were foolishly forgetting.
And they did one thing differently when it came to reprimands or “putting someone in their place”—-they directed the discipline to those that they loved within the churches—those in leadership. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said that “nothing can be more cruel than leniency which abandons others to their sins. Jesus’ most direct and blunt words were saved for Peter and the disciples—not those outside. It seems to me that we are quick to point out the errors of those outside the Christian faith and yet remain silent about the things within our churches that out to be confronted. If Paul, another apostle or Jesus Himself were standing here today, what they say to good church folks—i.e. the bonafide Christians in our communities and at our camps?
They would tell us to:
-Be nice to each other. And they would confront those within the church that are not nice. There’s just no place for unkindness. There’s no record of Jesus ever screaming or yelling at anyone—nor of the apostles
-Don’t forget that you are also a SERVANT of Jesus Christ. Jesus is not our servant or Genie in a bottle—the one we call on to do the work for us that we ought to be doing or the one we turn to make our lives easy and full of pleasure —-we got it backwards. We are His to be used as He chooses in the work of Kingdom of God.
Keep yourself humble—or don’t be surprised if He intervenes and does the humbling for us. There’s no place in God’s Kingdom for arrogance and boasting
Be gentle!! If we must rebuke or reprimand or offer correction or even advice, to be gentle. Yes, being gentle is a fruit of the Spirit, but Paul tells us that if we’re not being gentle, something is wrong with our spiritual connection. Being gentle is not being weak—-Jesus was not weak, God is not weak—-but they are gentle. To be gentle I must at times restrain my temper, learn to empathize and have compassion. I have to put myself in their shoes, so to speak, and recall howI want God to treat me.
Be patient and put up with each other. In a few words, do to others what you hope God will do to you. He certainly is patient and forbearing with me and certainly does put up with me—and He demands that I express the same virtues and spiritual attitudes to the other. This is why God gives us children—to test us in this matter.
In closing this passage Paul reminds us that, :THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD, ONE BODY, ONE FAITH ON BAPTISM”. If we know Him and have declared that He is Lord, and believe that God raised Him from the dead, one day, soon perhaps, we will in a place with many folks from various denominations, political parties, races, colors, etc. We might be with some that we thought would never get into heaven, and some there might think that we would would never get into heaven. But I believe this: Heaven is a place for those who love God and His Son and desire to be there. God is going to bring His children into that place of rest and peace. …….therefore, let’s get used to spending time with each other and play nicely together.
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