About a week ago, my church had a couples night, and my husband and I were asked to come up with a game for all couples to play. Obviously, we were quite excited about this, but my own excitement soon turned to anxiety over what to do. Talking to people, I realized that games in the prior years had not been big hits with people because everyone’s comfort level was so different than other couples. If you know me, you know that is a HUGE challenge for me because being from the South…….let’s just say that we talk about EVERYTHING! LOL! So, I had to lean considerably on my husband’s thoughts on the game, and eventually we came up with “21 Questions”. A list of very random questions that each spouse had to answer, and then find their spouse among the posted answers on the wall. Thankfully everyone found their spouse on the first try, and we were very happy to hear that people really enjoyed the game.
Now, this couples night came at a time where I have been asking my husband a lot of questions about convictions……how people have different convictions, how do you walk with said people, what do you do when you really feel like they have an error, etc. And I’ll be honest, I have never NEVER been in a church where people have such strong convictions in my life! As my husband says, there is a continuum that churchs lie on where one end is legalism and the other is godlessness. In the South, we see more godlessness, but out here in the West, you can probably see more on the other side of legalism. Obviously, the goal of any church is never to be caught in the extreme of any camp, but to be sanctified and holy before God, walking in complete love.
So, again, we’ve been having these conversations, and I’ll admit, it’s been somewhat difficult for me to understand. I am completely fine with people having a difference of opinions and beliefs, but trying to walk with people and actively love people when I personally see things differently is really challenging. It is even more challenging being a wife and trying to offer support and encouragement for my fellow sisters in Christ. As I told my husband, I know that wives are to submit to their husbands, and I would never sway a wife to do differently, but I sincerely don’t know what to say when I disagree. How do you offer support to that fellow sister? How do you sincerely encourage them from an authentic heart? Granted, I can secretly pray that her husband’s eyes are open soon or that he is open to hearing her opinion, but really, how do you practically deal with that? In talking with my husband about this (and he definitely believes it can be quite difficult for sisters to submit to their husbands……granted, this is why he fully advocates KNOWING who you are marrying before you make the vow) he said that it is just walking in love with fellow believers and encouraging those sisters to seek the abounding grace of God that is always available to them, no matter the situation.
Thinking on this, I started reading Ephesians, and around the 4th chapter, I came to this:
I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to and beg you to walk worthy of the [divine] calling to which you have been called [with behavior that is a credit to the summons to God’s service, living as becomes you] with completely lowliness of mind (humility) and meekness, with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you love one another. Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace. [There is] one body body and one Spirit – just as there is also one hope [that belongs] to the calling you received – [There is] one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of [us] all, Who is above all [Sovereign over all], pervading all and [living] in [us] all. Yet grace was given to each of us individually [not indiscriminately, but in different ways] in proportion to the measure of Christ’s [rich and bounteous] gift…And His gifts were [varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us] some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers. His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints, [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ’s body, [that it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the [full and accurate] knowledge of the Song of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood, the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ and the completeness found in Him. So then, we may no longer be children, tossed [like ships] to and fro between chance gusts of teaching and wavering with every changing wind of doctrine, [the prey of] the cunning and cleverness of unscrupulous men, [gamblers engaged] in every shifting form of trickery in inventing errors to mislead. Rather, let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Enfolded in love, let us grow p in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, [even] Christ. For because of Him the whole body, closely joined and firmly knit together by the joints and ligaments with which it is supplied, when each part [with power adapted to its need] is working properly [in all its functions], grows to full maturity, building itself up in love.
Meditating on this passage, God really began to open my eyes about my dilemma. The fact is, we all err to some degree or fashion in our walk with God. As Christ mentioned, it is often easier to see specks in others while we have planks coming out of ourselves, but regardless, there is much room for growth and clarity, leading to spiritual maturity in all of us. None of us are exempt from that, because there is no way we can individually “arrive” at full maturity in Christ. Thus, I had to repent of my pridefulness and open my heart to loving all members of the body, without partiality.
The fact is, every single believer is absolutely necessary in the body of Christ. Every believer is necessary because every believer comes bringing something that will help the entire body grow and mature into the fullness of Christ. Even if we count some as being “weaker”, even that should be producing meekness, patience, and love within us to bear with them in their walk.
The fact is, in Christ, there will only be ONE body, and this body must be fully united, mature…perfect. Every person, in Christ, is there to help that work…to bring the body of Christ into perfection. From the ultra-spiritual person to the seemingly dispondent person and all of those in between….every one of them is there to help bring us into perfection in Christ, and a prideful person will always discredit the gifts of another believer to the body. Obviously, I was seriously convicted by all of this, and I thank God for that in all of this. Having this understanding of God’s intention with us has really opened my eyes, and it has made me more diligent in walking in love with all of my fellow believers, whether I agree or disagree with some things they believe.
One of the more important things that I learned in all of this was the genuine heart of an elder. I’ll be honest and say that I have never sought to understand the heart of my elders or even my pastor at home when it came to the church, but this passage has really caused me to understand their most sincere hope in Christ….a mature and perfected body. I understand why so many people at my church are sincerely praying that my husband’s job does not take us away from Colorado….it’s because they see the gifts that we bring, even if we don’t see it ourselves. And having this understanding is definitely causing me to pray more earnestly for my church, that the Lord would add whatever is necessary to cause us to grow up more in Him.
And lastly, in all of this, I am finally coming to understand the heart of my husband. I had no idea why he desperately wanted to remain in Colorado with the church. Granted, I absolutely love my church family, but I knew my love was not as deep as the love he had (granted, he’s been here longer than I have, but still, it wasn’t the same). So from this, I got it. Finally, I got it. And you know, my prayer is that God will have His way in our lives. That if we remain here, we continue to have something to offer and learn from this body. But if we have to leave, that He will bring us to a place where we again have something to offer and learn from His body.
My hope is that if you read this, that you consider how much you are walking in love with those believers near you. Do you consider some to be great assets to the body, while others are more liabilities? Is it a difficulty for you to speak and engage with some, rather than others? Do you really try to avoid interacting with some because of that difficulty? If so, I challenge you to be humbled, to walk in love, and see the gift that they are bringing to the entire body, including your own life. Even if you can’t see it perfectly, thank God for that person and be diligent to walk in love with him or her, always edifying and building one another up.
For this reason [seeing the greatness of this plan by which you are built together in Christ], I bow my knees before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named [that Father from Whom all fatherhood takes its title and derives its name]. May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the [Holy] Spirit [Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality]. May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, that you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; [that you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]! -Ephesians 3:14-19