God tells us to love him and love our neighbors as ourselves. It appears easy for us to say we love God because of all he’s done for us, but when it boils down to loving our neighbor that becomes a different story. In the Old Testament the law was written as a way of conduct and impossible for any man other than Jesus to fulfill. The law told you what not to do i.e., thou shall not have any other Gods before me, thou shall not commit murder, thou shall not commit adultery and more (Exodus 20). Thankfully because of Jesus, we are no longer under the law but we have grace through faith and are made righteous because of him.
A brother comes to you and blesses you with some money, a ride, or he is just there for you in time of need. Not only are you grateful, you also feel good and consider him as a good man. Therefore, loving him wouldn’t be an issue because he just helped you out. On another day, a sister comes to you and does one if not all of the following: cuts off your conversation, without saying excuse me, acts coldly towards you or may have said a joke that wasn’t pleasing to you. These scenarios more than likely tapped on your emotions and instantly the negative thoughts and feelings come flooding down. So you ponder to yourself “how could someone be so nasty and rude” and then you keep revisiting these thoughts which is exactly what the enemy wants. Once you leave you may have continued your day and did what you had planned but the next time you see this sister, the enemy brings to remembrance those negative feelings and thoughts. Here you are at church Sunday morning trying to give God your praise and worship yet your walking in the flesh and not in the spirit because you have some resentment towards this sister.
“Your relationships with your brothers and sisters in the Lord will affect your worship” (The Worship Leader’s Handbook by Tom Krauter). Ephesians 2:19-22 says “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Here we can see and understand that God is building his people together into a “holy temple” in which he lives. So when we harbor negativity towards another brother/sister in Christ, the walls of this holy temple God is creating becomes weaken.
We MUST remember though we are all different in our flesh in our spirit man we are all united through Christ. No matter what a person may do to you at the end of the day, they are still a child of God and we must follow the commandment God has told us which is to love our neighbors. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 says “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple”. We may not see it as such but we damage the walls of God’s real temple every time we come together with strained and severed relationships. I have heard some say your relationship with Christ is your own. Now that may be true because we each have our own time to fellowship with the Lord and work on ourselves to be better images of Christ. However, all these little pieces come together to make one greater picture, the Church. God loves fellowship, healthy fellowship. We must be able to come together without resentment and anger towards our brothers and sisters in Christ to allow the praises to go up and blessings come down.
Now that you have addressed the issue then the next question may be, how do we go about it? In order to establish and build healthy relationships with fellow believers, make it a high priority. “When you do this, you will see a difference in your worship life and in the experience of corporate worship in your church” (The Worship Leader’s Handbook). Pray to God to help you deal with unforgiveness and how to let go of negative feelings towards another person. God will reveal to you whether it be to fast or to simply talk to the person who may have offended you. In the same breath, we also shouldn’t be so easily offended and should be mindful about how we conduct and speak towards others. This will not happen over night so we must pray and lead by example so that those around us may be positively influenced. God is patient with us even after we do something wrong and yet he still loves us. If God can, then we can too! “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2). We should keep in mind that we are reflections of God’s image and that should define our actions. When we truly love God, we keep his word “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
Since his word says to love then we must practice the love of God with our brothers and sisters in Christ even if they do something offensive. Count it all joy!
By: Norah Jean-Louis