Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love for me, given to you by the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:30 NLT
Do we care enough to join in the struggles of other believers?
I have to admit that for me, the answer is – “Not often enough, but I’m learning to change.”
In our Friday night small group, I’ve explained that one of our key goals is becoming a closely knit group that cares about each other. Not just a group that prays the grocery list of prayer requests, but that digs into the emotions and spiritual struggles of each others’ situations both together in action and together in prayer – so that we mourn together and we celebrate together.
Unity in the body of Christ, I have to believe is less about the facts and details of our theology and more about being of one mind and direction, seeking God’s will as communicated in the Word of God, being draw closer to the Lord in our walks, and in turn closer to one another. And when we are in unity seeking first the Kingdom of God and righteousness, all those other things, those things that Christ explains to the Pharisees are the lesser things – they will be added to us.
Doesn’t He tell us that love fulfills the law? Doesn’t He tell us that there is no law against the fruit of the Holy Spirit? Doesn’t He tell us that we should keep in step with the Spirit and not walk in the flesh?
So why is there so much bickering and argument over these lesser things, over the details of the law? Why are men so interested in learning about God in their minds but refusing to love in their hearts?
And someone might say, but what if I love someone or something that the Lord doesn’t love? And I say, how can this be unless it is sin, unless it is evil?
And they will say, but how can I know if someone is evil? And I say, the Lord tells us that our enemies are not flesh and blood, that He does not wish that even one should perish, that we should love and pray for even those men and women whom we think are our enemies. Not to pray for their evil or wickedness to prevail, God forbid! But that we pray that they come to know Christ closer and be delivered from those unseen forces that are influencing their lives because of the sin they have not yet released from their clutches.
Sinners cling to sin, that’s what we as men and women of flesh and blood do until it is cast out – until He who is in us overcomes it. But until then, we hold onto it, we even try to hide it from ourselves. We act foolishly as if we can hide it from God, like Adam and Eve in the garden. So we all need to be made aware of sin wherever it exists in our lives, and we need to pray for deliverance through His strength, not just our own striving. We need to be opposed to sin, both in our lives and the lives of others – not so that we can consider ourselves perfect or expect others to be perfect – but so that we can do our part to minimize sin’s affect on ourselves and others.
You see, God gives us divine instruction because He knows what is best. He wants to protect us from those things in the world that will harm us spiritually and eternally, and lead us into the life that is most rewarding. Now I must mention, that sometimes, worldly rewards, pleasures, and treasures can lie in direct opposition to us obtaining those eternal treasures. The divine instructions are about eternal treasure, not about the temporary things of this world. But the amazing thing is that once we set our eyes upon the eternal, He provides for the temporary as well.
So this is the understanding that we want each to come to. And it isn’t a logical conclusion that we have calculated in our minds. It is not a theological proof that we are looking to exercise and manipulate within the world for our own profit and gain. It is a divine wisdom and understanding given to those who are unveiled Children of God, who are seeking His will, and not our own.
And it is foolishness to the wise of this world, and even to the religious, because it isn’t about things that can be measured and compared between men. It isn’t even about something that we can fully lay claim to for ourselves until this race is at its end and we kneel before the one we call Lord.
“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
Matthew 7:21-23 NLT
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things.
If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made. Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example.
For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth.
But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.
Philippians 3:12-21 NLT
It is the most important realization of our lives – that we are not worthy, and neither are they – but that God in His mercy and grace extends His love to us, who will believe, and who will follow, and who will lay down their lives and be raised to a new life in Christ, running this race to the end, understanding that we are temporary travelers in a strange land, headed along the narrow path back to our Father’s house, where He awaits with open arms.
I’m not concerned with the party. I’m not concerned with the celebration. I’m not concerned with the house that He’s prepared with many rooms. I’m not concerned with the riches and rewards. I’m seeking my Father’s arms. Set toot eyes upon your destination, friends. Choose today what you are seeking, for you will receive your heart’s desires – but will your heart’s desires be what you want in the end?
And if we want these things for ourselves, shouldn’t we want them for others? If we say we love Him, shouldn’t we love like Him. So go, get to know your brothers and sisters personally, and grow together during this temporary journey, and prepare yourself to return to His arms.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:34-35 ESV