Have you ever been disappointed by another Christian? Maybe it was someone in church or your Christian community? Maybe you were not disappointed but you have so many questions concerning the behavior of your fellow church members, Christian community or even your own pastors? I have been disappointed and I believe I have also unintentionally hurt some people along the way. This has led me to look into how we can change things and empower one another to become better
Often times when someone accepts Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior ,we expect them to instantly become perfect (i.e. to be an exact image of Christ). We leave no room for that person’s growth. Neither do we leave any room for them to make mistakes along the way. Our ‘fellow christian’s‘ faults can become a stumbling block in our walk with Christ if we are not careful.
Learning to walk in the spirit is not so different from learning to walk in the physical. Our journey begins with hesitantly making one baby step while we hold onto things, then we make our first step trying to balance on our own. That step is usually followed by a definite fall. But when we get up, we try again until we can make two , then three steps on our own. Before we know it, our parents need not worry about our falls. A few years later they boast about how much we can sprint.
Becoming a follower of Christ does not mean that we automatically become perfect in all our ways. It means we have given our lives to God and we submit ourselves to the Potter so He can begin the work in us until we become an object fit for the master’s use. In one season, He will mold us, in another He will shape us into a vessel of use and in another season He will throw us into the fire as He strengthens us. One day we’ll eventually become fit and ready for His use. Becoming a Christ follower is accepting the invitation from a perfect God to start the work of perfection in us. And it is a process that involves our falls in the long run.
Almost everyone in the bible had shortfalls and made mistakes at some point in their lives. Peter denied Christ three times. The disciples who lived with Jesus and knew him first-hand, competed against themselves for the wrong reasons. His own mother and brother attempted to distract Him while He was doing the work of the father. The list is endless but Jesus forgave them all and continued loving them. Sometimes we fail to be like Jesus and the unfortunate part is we do not notice it. When our fellow brothers and sisters fall/sin/make mistakes, we crucify them. We struggle with handling failure, disappointment , hurt, lack of appreciation , racism, favoritism, insults from them. The sad part is, our ultimate solution is usually not choosing love.
So why I am sharing all this with you? The reasons are plenty but in this lesson my main reasons are to promote love and an environment that supports growth.
# 1 Developing an attitude of a Cheerleader
When babies successfully make their first step then fall, we do everything within our power to capture the moment – pictures, videos and even entries in their scrap book. We clap hands for them and we cheer them up. We do not criticize them over their small progress but we encourage them. We do not crush their feelings or compare them with others. We boost their confidence and rejoice with them. We encourage them to try again and offer a helping hand when they struggle with standing on their own. We assure them that they can make it and we give them hope and that in future attempts they can make it.
Such encouragement, excitement and support is what I desire to see in all of us as we interact with one another. My desire is to see all of us adopt the same attitude towards our fellow brothers and sisters who have surrendered their life to Christ.
When our fellow brothers, sisters and church mates still gossip but have given up heavy-drinking, let us celebrate their baby step in giving up the heavy-drinking. When they do not greet us us at church , let us greet them instead and celebrate the fact that they actually made it to church. When they do us wrong us and yet proclaim they are new creations in Christ – let us celebrate their decision to surrender their life to God. The fact that they got something right is worth of our celebration!
#2 Choosing the right choice
Choosing not to disown or rule-out those who have failed and made mistakes is not putting a stamp of approval on their sinful act. It is merely coming to terms with the fact that even though they were wrong, I have an option to do the right thing. It is choosing not to give up on them , backbiting them, gossiping about them, judging them or pushing them away from God. It is choosing to continue loving them as Christ the potter, continues to perfect them.
It is choosing to be their support system and lending a helping hand to them as they make their baby steps. It is choosing hope over neglect. Hope that one day you will see them walk on their two feet and your heart will be filled with joy as you marvel at their progress. It is choosing to have the attitude of the father. He is love. He is the one who teaches us to never rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoice with the truth. He is the one who teaches us to bear with one another, and forgive each other just as He forgave us.
It is choosing to accept that we are not so different from them and understanding that we are also imperfect and God is perfecting us as well. God desires all of us to be perfect like Him. And it is only Him who can perfect us. He does not give up on us due to our imperfections. He loves us through them as He cleanses us, purifies us, forgives us and teaches us. His expectation is for us all to also love one another despite our imperfections.
3. Acknowledging that we need each other
We are all members of the body of Christ. Each church and every church member makes the body of Christ. You and I have roles to play in the Kingdom for the full functionality of the body of the Christ.
Regardless of how big or how small the body part is, the body is only fully-functional when all the members of the body are working effectively and optimally in their role.
Same with us . When we give up on others , it means the body of Christ is not fully functional. Truth is , we need each other.
Let us embrace one another and develop the right attitude towards each other as we allow God Almighty to perfect us all.