Don't Hurt Yourself
14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
One of the key indicators of a mature body of believers is the way they care for and love one another. Paul wrote about this quite a bit in his epistles to the Ephesians and Corinthians. Paul often used the image of a body working in unison with each other to describe our Lord's intention for the Church body to operate. Each of us make up a unique part of His body to which He is the HEAD. It’s a beautiful illustration that the Holy Spirit revealed to Paul, to help us understand we now, through Christ, belong to each other. That means that I no longer do community for my own benefit, but for the benefit of those I am called to do community with. The result of that becomes a blessing for me because we are all in the same body. So, when I bless you first I also receive blessings. When I come to the body to harm a brother or sister, I also am hurting myself. When I attempt to isolate myself from the body to avoid hurts, I’m actually causing the hurt I was trying to avoid, because body parts cannot just remove themselves without causing pain to the whole body. When we view ourselves as connected to one another, then we are able to truly care for each other's wounds and truly celebrate each other's victories. This is what the Lord desires in His church. Not for us to be perfect, but for us to commit to one another with His perfect love.
Slowly but surely, I am beginning to understand and live this out more. Some questions I ask myself now when I am in confrontation with someone I'm doing community with.
What’s my goal in this relationship? To be right, or to better love and understand this person, that I belong to through Christ?
Does the history of my relationship with this person prove that I desire to benefit them before myself? Why or why not?
Am I truly seeing this person as another member of the same body that I am attached to?
These simple questions help ground me in Jesus' love as I pursue healthy relationships in the community He has called me to.