Keith Hunt - A KEY FOR LOCAL CHURCH HARMONY AND PEACE Restitution of All Things


                          A KEY FOR
                        LOCAL CHURCH 
                      HARMONY AND PEACE
                             by

                         Keith Hunt


   Jesus taught that people in general would know His disciples,
if, ".....you have LOVE one for another" (John 13:35). The
apostle known by many today as the "apostle of love" - John, had
quite a lot to say on the matter of brotherly love within the
community of the Church of God.
Here is just a sample. "He that says he is in the light, and
hates his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loves
his brother abides in the light......We know that we have passed
from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loves
not his brother abides in death......Beloved, let us love one
another: for love is of God......if God so loved us, we ought
also to love one another......By this we know that we love the
children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments" (!
John 1:9,10; 3:14; 4:7; 5:2).
   John, in his letters, mentions in some specifics, how love to
others is manifested.
   The apostle Paul was inspired to relate on many occasions to
the churches he wrote to, what loving your brother and sister in
Christ (and even those outside Christ) really meant. Here are
some of his words. "Love works no ill to his neighbor......Fulfil
you my joy, that you be likeminded, having the same love, being
of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife of
vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better
than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every
man also on the things of others" (Romans 13:10; Phil.2:2-4).
   The New Testament is full of instructional edification for the
child of God as to what is "love one towards another."
   Yet, our heavenly Father knows we are still but flesh, with at
times, lots of carnal nature showing up in our relations one with
another as to walk and fellowship together in the spiritual
body of Christ. It was no different in the days of John and Paul
when they wrote the words we have just read. People, just acted
way too often towards each other with carnal nature. Some
knowing the liberty that they had in Christ(knowing perhaps more
technical knowledge than others) were using it to bite and devour
other Christians. "For, brethren, you have been called
unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh,
but by love serve one another......But if you bite and devour one
another, take heed that you be not CONSUMED one of another"
(Gal.5:13-15).
   Human nature is such that in most cases when one person starts
to bite and devour another in words and actions, the other comes
biting and devouring back. Before long many people in
a local church can be consumed with the lusts of the flesh one
towards another. Paul went on from this thought to bring his
famous section of Scripture on the works of the flesh and the
fruits of the Spirit, verses 16-26.
   Paul instructed the church at Ephesus to watch careful what
came out of the mouth in words to each other, and gave
instructions on how to correct the situation when through the
carnal flesh, wrong words to others or about others did come
forth. "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth,
but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may
minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the Holy Spirit
of God......Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and
clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all
malice: And be you kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving
one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you"
(Eph.4:29-32).
   Oh yes, how such carnality of words and deeds that we may
exhibit from time to time towards another Christian, GRIEVES the
Holy Spirit. We all know it should not be. God and Christ know it
should not be. But they also know we are still flesh and that we
can fall into such sins at times. 
   The Father and Christ have not left us without some direct
instructions on righting the situation, of hurting and offending
someone, or knowing that someone has hurt or offended us.
Part of correcting the situation was given by Paul in the last
verse quoted above.It involves kindness, being tenderhearted, and
forgiving.
   Jesus also gave us instructions as what to do under those
"offense" circumstances that do crop up at times in any local
congregation. "......if you bring your gift to the altar, and
there remember that your brother has aught against you; Leave
there your gift before the altar, and go your way; first be
reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift"
(Mat.5:23-24).
   This is YOUR responsibility, yes, you personally are to do
this, to reconcile with your brother or sister. There is nothing
here about telling your troubles that you may have with a
Christian brother or sister to the Eldership, so they can fix it
for you. Nothing here about telling your mate so they can mend
the problem for you. Nothing here about telling another church
member your difficulty with someone, and asking them to reconcile
the situation. If you have a problem with another Christian YOU
are to "Leave there your gift before the altar, and GO YOUR WAY;
first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your
gift."
   Even under a VERY SERIOUS problem and situation that may arise
between you and another in the church, a situation where finally
others may have to be brought in, and where a person may have to
be, if no repentance is forthcoming, a "heathen man and a
publican," it is YOU and you alone, that must make the first
attempt at reconciling the problem.  Notice it:
"Moreover if your brother shall trespass against YOU, go and tell
him his fault BETWEEN YOU AND HIM ALONE; if he shall hear you,
you have gained your brother" (Mat.18:15).
   
   If we want peace and harmony in the churches of God. Every
member needs to fully understand what has been covered in this
article.  We have MANY personal responsibilities as
Christians, and going personally to another brother or sister in
Christ, in an effort to resolve a problem you have with that
individual, is one of those many responsibilities. We should not
be gossiping to others about that problem. We should not be
trying to build up a football team with you as quarterback, in
order to slay the nasty villain, at some ambush time.  None of
this carnality is to be engaged in.  YOU PERSONALLY are to go to
the one you have a problem with, and YOU are to try and bring
about a reconciliation.

   It should all be done in love, all done with kindness, with a
tender heart, with a readiness to forgive, or to ask the other
(if you are to blame) that they will forgive you.
   You need to remember that every Christian has some carnal
nature still within them, INCLUDING YOU, and you also need to
remember that every Christian, including the one who has "done
you wrong," has Jesus Christ within them, and hence some truly
good works and fruits of the Spirit.  You may want to, I strongly
suggest you do, start off your conversation with this person by
telling them you appreciate some of their good strong points of
their character, their God given abilities and talents, and then
proceed to the problem you have come to reconcile.

   I guarantee that if the above is followed and practiced by
every member of a local church of God, it will go a mighty long
way in having peace and love within that congregation, for this
instruction on the way to peace and love is not from the ideas of
a man, but is the word and teaching of Him who is the Prince of
peace.

   SHALOM to you all.

                      ...............................

Written August 1999

All articles and studies by Keith Hunt may be copied, published,
e-mailed, and distributed as led by the Spirit. Mr. Hunt trusts
nothing will be changed without his consent.
 
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