SCRIPTURE: 1 Peter 3:8-12
Suffering for Doing Right
8 Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing. 10 For
“Those who desire life and desire to see good days, let them keep their tongues from evil and their lips from speaking deceit; 11 let them turn away from evil and do good; let them seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
David Walls and Max Anders offer the observations that:
“These verses present an ideal picture of the life of a church. The target audience (all of you) has expanded beyond husbands and wives to include everyone in the church. Harmonious living is displayed in the life of the church. Live in harmony translates a single word in the original text and means “to be like-minded.” It describes an inner unity of attitude that makes division and mutiny within the body of Christ unthinkable.”
“This does not mean the church will never have any differences of opinion. The variety of gifts and talents God has given his people mean differences of opinion are bound to occur. The key is not the differences; the issue is how those differences are handled. Believers should live and minister together so that the differences do not divide the church but serve to enrich its life and work. To live in harmony means Christians should pursue the same primary purpose of serving God and extending love to one another, instead of being fueled by individual and selfish interests.”
Many believe, and will argue, that the church is supposed to be the shining example of how we should live in God’s love for God and for each other. And yet, almost everyone can think of disagreements and differences that have caused pain, harm, and division within their own local church. Sometimes it is over small things like the new paint color for the fellowship hall. Other times it is over larger issues, like how the church relates to and treats people who identify in the LGBTQ+ community.
For those that are outside of the church community, it can be cause for concern and disillusion when the group of people who are supposed to be loving others are fighting and failing to show and live into the grace of God. As Walls and Anders point out, there will always be differences of opinion within the church. But what matters is how we handle those differences, either with love and grace or anger and selfishness.
Think of the last time you had a disagreement with someone else in the church. How did you handle it then? What do you wish you could have done differently? What do you plan to do in the future when differences arise?
Loving God, help us to always find ways to work together to move through the disagreements and differences that come up between your children. Help us to always treat each other with love, mercy, and grace, just like Jesus does for each of us. Strengthen our love for you and one another that we might always put first your plan. Amen.