I heard a story from another parish during the week where two people – both key leaders – haven’t communicated with one another for years.
From time to time I hear other stories of churches where people regularly lose their temper with one another or are simply rude to one another. Or other parishes where people consistently knock back new ideas no matter what they are and then become vocal in their opposition to those who dare raise them. “We tried that before”. “We’ve never done it that way”. “That’ll never work”. I even heard recently of some people who stopped coming to their church because they don’t like the way the minister speaks!
Friends, such division and negativity will kill the church! And I often question whether such people really get the gospel. Jesus said ‘by their fruit you will know them’ and some people simply display no fruit of the Holy Spirit’s transforming grace in their lives.
Here’s just some of what we read in the New Testament about how our relationship with one another ought to work.
The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’. If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. Galatians 5:14-15.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32.
When you grasp God’s grace to you, then grace marks all your interaction with others!!
The Rev’d Mark Calder