Today we are going to look at verses 12-14.
First, though, I want to touch again on verse 11. Because before we move onto the list of what things to bring into genuine Christian Community we have to start with the basics. And as Paul makes it clear, the basics here are that if we share the commonality of Christ we share everything. In Christ there are no divisive labels to box us out from one another. There is only Christ and he unites us. That’s how the body of Christ is supposed to work. In relation and with love for each other. So step one to what to bring into community… You are all in the same boat. You share the greatest commonality in all of history: the love and adoration for the one true King. He is first and he is what makes us who we are. Adopted children of the one true God. And that’s the bottom line, all that remains in Christ are sons and daughters (or daughters and sons if you prefer) of God.
Now that we have the basics, let us dive in,
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
This is how we are to live in community with one another. These are the trump cards we have to bring to the game every single time. In fact our hand should only have these cards to share.
Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Dang.
Compassion: empathy, sympathy, understanding, self-sacrificing. These are the things of compassion. When you see a broken friend, do not turn a deaf ear to them. Christ lives in them. They deserve your time and your attentive care. Let Christ’s light shine through you. Allow him to heal through you.
Kindness: hospitality, encouragement and generosity for the sake of being generous go such a long way. The pureness of kindness promises no return, but rather a self-giving because you have excess in your heart to give. Christ has filled you to the brim with kindness. You have more than enough to share. You never know how a simple “You look beautiful” a free lunch or an extended hand could literally change the direction of another person’s life.
Humility: You are not the most important person in the room. Lay down your need for attention and affirmation. And stop for goodness sake trying to be right just so that you can be right. Pride has no room in the Kingdom of God and neither in the Body of Christ. Get yourself in check friends.
Gentleness: Sometimes people do need a swift kick in the butt. But you better friken know that person like the back of your hand. If you don’t, you should probably save your harsh and abrasive attitude for another day. Gentleness gives you the chance to get the whole story. You may very well only be seeing a part of every thing going on in someone else’s life. Offer the gentleness you desire to see in others.
Patience: If you struggle with patience you probably skipped ahead to this part of my blog. Okay now back up and read the other parts… Okay? You ready to move on? Good. If you cannot have patience in community, get out now. It is not always easy to be patient. Especially when you are watching someone you love deeply in a very rough spot. You may just wanna smack them in the face. But most often people need us to extend the same patience that God offers us, His disobedient and wandering children. Like the humility piece, it isn’t all about you. Swallow that and digest that, because when you lack patience you lack humility and gentleness and compassion. It is probably why Paul listed it last.
Now that those subjects have been briefly covered, it is time to see what Paul thinks the most important pieces to the puzzle are. Without these two every other piece is a waste.
Forgiveness and Love.
Forgiveness is up first: Paul wants us to bear with one another. That means more than just put up with one another. That means STRUGGLE with one another. Strive on together fight on together, grow together. This cannot happen without being able to forgive each other. I promise you. Because you will get hurt and you will hurt those that you love. Deal with that fact. I do not care how perfect you try to be, we are human and we mess up. If we were perfect we would not need Christ to live in us. We would be good to go. But we are FAR from perfect. We are broken mirrors of the intended image we are supposed to be bearing. So forgive one another. Even when you really really do not want to.
Because, well. The offenses you have brought against God are WAY more horrid and unforgivable than the ones your community has brought against you. Yet He has forgiven you, He has forgiven the whole world. There is no wiggle room here. I am sorry. There may be something in your life you feel like you cannot forgive, but that is utter poop. Feeling does not denote truth. Forgive one another as the Lord has forgiven you. Forgive, like the LORD has already forgiven YOU.
And now for the last piece of today’s series: Love.
Check out 1 Corinthians 13.
Paul says community is a heart issue. You do not do all these things above just because you are commanded to. You are called to LOVE these people you are in community with. Love spurs us on. Love asks for intimacy and it beckons for vulnerability and authenticity. If you have love the rest of the “To Do List” is pie. Bind all of these things together with love. Start there. Start by loving. Do not give me that “Sure I love them but I don’t have to like them” crap. Stop being an idiot.
That wasn’t too gentle I guess. But hey, there is a time and a place for blunt words.
I love all of my readers dearly and hope that we can enter into conversation and relationship if we are not already.
Until part 4 of this series,