what causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? you desire and do not have, so you murder. you covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. you do not have, because you do not ask. you ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. [james 4:1-3]
God is very clear about how he feels for the body of Christ, his church. he chose her, he died for her, and he is building her into something beautiful. something that reflects his glory so that she might be presented to Christ, a pure and spotless bride, at the end of the age, one with him for all of eternity. [eph 2:19-22, 2 cor 11:2, eph 5:27, rev 19:7]
one thing that is stressed so strongly about the bride of Christ is her unity. we are one together with each other to make up the church, and without unity in Christ, we crumble. when our unity is based on something else [culture, stage of life, preferences], we will quickly be divided, just like the church in galatia, just like the jewish christian churches that james is writing to here. do you pray for unity within the body? i confess, i do very little. but if the world is to see a kingdom of priests that declare the glory and presence of God in word and in action, we should be on our knees every day asking for the body to be one together just as Jesus is one together with his Father.
is there someone in our body that you are at odds with? that you avoid eye contact with? that you are giving the silent treatment? that you talk about to others? this is not unity!
by this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. for this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. we should not be like cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. and why did he murder him? because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. we know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. whoever does not love abides in death. everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. by this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. but if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. [1 john 3:10-18]
john makes it very clear here. not being unified is not an option. if the love of Christ controls us, every believer around us will see and know that love coming from us. that compassionate, unconditional, dying to self kind of love.
Father, i come to you empty, and unable to carry out your love in my flesh. but i know that your Spirit is stronger than my flesh. fill me with the Spirit, that the love of Christ might control me, might flow from me, that i might be one with my brothers and sisters in that love. may we shine together as a beacon of your glory, so that the world cannot deny that we are yours. amen.
~ arwen eastman