Summary: A unified church can be a powerful influence in the community so naturally our enemy love to create offenses to cause division. Forgiveness as Christ forgave us is a powerful defense against those schemes.
Walgreen’s – (life doesn’t give you lemons but there is still lemonade) Since we don’t live in perfect, there’s Walgreens…
The truth is there was a time we lived in perfect and will one day be returned there but it is hard to find here on earth.
Many people even bounce from church to church looking for the perfect church
Someone once said, “If you find the perfect church don’t join, because then it wont be!”
In reality many peoples definition of the perfect church usually concentrates more on the programs to make the perfect church, rather than God’s presence and a unified, healthy body of believers
• You see next to the presence of almighty God, it is the people and their relation with each other that is the key
• Truth without unity leads to pride; unity without truth leads to a departure from the true gospel itself.
• The correct balance between God’s presence, Truth and Unity is the key to a healthy church
o While the presence of The Holy Spirit is of the utmost importance
o The lack of truth and/or unity will cause his presence to depart!
Our hearts were made for community. We all hunger for the deep, authentic relationships Jesus had in mind when he prayed that his followers would be one.
Yet in many churches, and perhaps for some in this church, the connection we crave is lacking.
• How can this church become a place where nobody stands alone?
• How do we “Unify”, becoming an even more loving church that is so longed for (not only by us) but the community around us?
I heard a black preacher say once, When God’s word says “Therefore” You better see what it’s there for, because it’s there for a reason!
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
(Refer back to last week)
Forgiveness over Blame:
We talked about how Satan desires to bring disunity to the body of Christ and the local church. One of the tools that he loves to use is offense. If he can get us to take offense or hold onto a grievance with another believer that disunity soon follows.
• Offense comes when we get our eyes off of the kingdom and onto our own agenda
• We then stew over the offense letting it grow much larger than it is
• We lay all of the blame on the other party (poor innocent us couldn’t have been part of the issue)
• We rally others to our “righteous” cause
• Then the next thing you know you have disunity in the church
However if we follow the guidelines laid out in verse 13, we will find unity can be not only preserved but thrive despite offense!
(Breaking News) If you hang around church long enough, someone will offend you (and believe it or not) you will offend someone else. (It will happen)
How we respond to those offenses is the key!
Face in the Mirror
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.
Forgiveness starts with that face in the mirror
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
I had a thought hit me a couple of years back concerning this verse that just exploded and forever changed the way I look at my relationships with others.
A huge part of when we take offense, hold a grudge and don’t forgive is exactly that!
• We want to use the bible as a mirror for everyone else but our selves (Act it Out)
• We want to hold others to the standard
• But we forget how poor our reflection looks in that mirror!
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
We want them to follow the letter of the law but we don’t
• If we did we would go directly to that brother or sister and work it out in place of holding a grudge and telling others about the offense
First, bear with each other – Make allowances for each other’s faults. In our common language perhaps the best way to translate the original language is…