Let all bitterness and
wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all
malice.
Ephesians
4:31 (NASB)
I am so sad to say it is
not that way in many of our fellowships. Many churches have become hotbeds for
dissension, and factions have developed over issues of music, proper attire and
Bible translations. Add to this the personal insults and hurt feelings some
people struggle with along with pride that comes from a sinful heart, and you
have a sorry spiritual environment.
Many factions in our
churches are over purely sinful things. You don’t like me or something I said,
I don’t like you because of your music preference, or your clothing or any of
the other previously mentioned things. And then we all come together on Sunday
morning pretend we like each other and call it worship.  All the while hearts are full of
all this unrepentant sin toward one another! God’s blessing is asked on the
worship and everyone pretends that somehow the church is bringing God glory by
these actions…
In reality, these things
are a nauseating stench to God’s nostrils and it is for the same kinds of
hypocrisy that Jesus said “woe to you” (Matt. 23:27).  This is false unity which is beautiful on the
outside but is full of crawling worms inside because the inside is dead and
rotting.
When will the church
realize that God sees the hearts of men? When will we as the church realize
that despite the pretense of holiness we are deeply sinful and in need of
repentance? We must collectively realize that we are our
own worst enemies and admit to God that our worship is not from a pure heart!
We must confess our sin
to one another-admit our own wrongs. What usually happens is our confessions
include “but” (the great dis-qualifier) and we attempt to shift the
blame for sinful behavior onto someone else. This is obvious when someone says
they would not have said nor done something if the other person would not have
said or done what they did. This is not repentance or confession; it is blame
shifting and justification of personal sin! True confession is done in humility
and seeks to reconcile with others rather than justify self.
When confession is made
forgiveness from the heart must follow! Often forgiveness is just lip service
and meaningless! The words of forgiveness are uttered but the offense is
cherished in the heart. This allows critical thoughts and gossip to flourish,
and the offence is rehearsed over and over in the mind.
Heart level forgiveness
means the hurt for the offense is transferred to the cross, the desire for
revenge goes to the cross, and the anger and hatred toward that person to the
cross as well. It means the offender is seen through the eyes of Christ- from
the cross.
True forgiveness means never bringing
up the incident again. It is not brought up to others, to the person you have
forgiven, and you do not bring it up to yourself. True forgiveness mirrors that
of God towards us! The offense is thrown as far as the east is from the west
(Psalm 103:12), and the forgiveness is all of grace (Eph. 1:7). We do not
forgive because a person deserves to be forgiven; we forgive because
we were undeserving and were shown mercy and grace.
If we are ever going to
fix the mess known as the present day church we must begin with application of
the 4th Chapter of Ephesians.
Therefore I, the
prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling
with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with
patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve
the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
 Ephesians 4:1-3
We have to make an
effort to effect heart change! We must begin to respond rightly to the
promptings, conviction, and leadership of the Spirit of God. This is more
likely as we memorize and meditate on Scripture and acting on what we learn.
Tolerating
idiosyncrasies is much easier when the attitude of the heart is focused on
being loving.  1 Corinthians 16:14 says, “Let all that you do be done in love.” Love
was the motivation for your salvation (Eph. 1:4) and it is how we are to build
up this body (Eph 4:16). Love must come before programs, and outreach and
service projects- it must come before it all or the work is useless.
We must speak the truth
in love to one another (Eph 4:15) even when it is hard. We are instructed to
speak spiritual truth to one another to help each other grow to
be more like Christ. As we do this the body of Christ matures and grows
stronger and it becomes more difficult to feed wrong doctrine to the church.
Ephesians 5:1 says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as
beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave
Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant
aroma.”
I suspect that much of
the “love” we show one another is not as sacrificial or loving as we
might like to think it is.
None of this is about
us, it is about Jesus Christ. You and I and the other people in our fellowships
are to be representing Him to the rest of the world. We are supposed to be Ambassadors
for Christ, representing Him in this foreign land. We are commissioned to
display Christ in such a way that other people want what we have!
As you reflect on your
relationships with others, examine them in the light of Scripture and in light
of your ambassadorship for Christ. If you were on the outside looking in, would
you want what you see being offered as “Christian?”

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