Kay Arthur made a statement today that really got my attention. Condemning another believer because their beliefs or practices differ from yours is like cutting yourself. Eph 4:4 says there is one body, Christ’s Body of believers. When we harm another believer, we are abusing the Body we inhabit.
When we become angry or disdainful or accusing about doctrinal difference, it’s hard to practice
kindness, gentleness, tolerance, and peace.
When we are putting someone else down, can we truly be ruled by the Spirit? Does the way we treat the Body cause the Head to weep? There may be parts of the Body that we don’t find beautiful–there may even be parts that seem ill or lame, but does that give us the right to cut them?
When I think about the phenomenon of “cutting” that we hear about too often today, a self-abusive practice that many teens have resorted to in order to overcome their emotional pain, I have to wonder if the divisions in the Body of Christ are similar. Are we reacting to pain and abuse in our own lives by hurting Christ’s Body?
There’s an interesting command given in Ephesians 4. Paul begins by imploring, beseeching us to show humility, gentleness, patience, and tolerance, and to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace. He doesn’t focus on truth and judgment here–he focuses on walking in the Spirit.
The chapter begins with “Therefore…” so we have to go back to the previous chapter to find out what that’s about. The last few verses of chapter 3 talk about Christ dwelling in our hearts and about us learning to know His incredible love and power and glory. Therefore, it goes on to say, we are to practice tolerance and kindness. That is, as a natural result of our learning that Jesus knows all, sees all, and loves us without measure anyway, we will show the fruits of the Holy Spirit in our relationships with others.
To do otherwise is to cut your own Body.
I love the fact that Eph 4:3 says to
be diligent to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace
[then it expands on that concept a bit and finishes the thought in verse 13]
…until we attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
Our work now is to preserve unity of the Spirit, to build up the Body of Christ, and someday that work will be finished…when we attain to the unity of the faith, the full knowledge of Christ. We won’t understand it all, we won’t know for sure who’s right about all the minor issues, until we attain unity of faith.
Now THAT is something to look forward to!