A few years ago, we attended a different church on Sunday mornings because we were drawn there by the music, the openness of the people, the lack of pretenses and the aesthetic environment of the services. This church had as it’s focus loving others with no expectations, no limits, and no strings attached….being Christ to those with whom they came into contact. My husband and I loved this because we have grown to live this way as a result of realizing that this is the way God loves us.
The older I get, the more settled I am, peaceful, in living my day-to-day life in the reality of being embraced freely by God’s love for me through His Son and the Spirit within me. I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what others are thinking or feeling because I am simply trying to let Christ live through me and make me who He wants me to be, and His opinion of me is all that matters.
Yes, I sometimes fail Him; I sometimes miss the mark in my love and expressions of love for others. However, I am open about my shortcomings and am drawn to those who accept me regardless of them. On the flip side, I try to give others the grace and mercy that has been shown to me and love them without boundaries and without expectations, knowing that it is actually Christ in me doing His work to love others the way He would love them.
I’ve been sad to learn that not everyone, not even every Christian, loves in this way. I can understand the drama in friendships that occurs in the lives of my teens, but as a 45 year old adult, I just don’t get that drama happening among adults. So, I find myself learning some life lessons over these last couple of years, here in the middle part of my life, and adding new pieces to my life puzzle…or maybe just beginning to see definition to some pieces that were already in place.
God uses everything in our lives to mold and shape us into the people He desired us to be from the start. I’m not saying He makes events occur or makes people treat us in certain ways, but that He uses it all in our lives. I appreciate the words of Kelly Clarkson’s song, Stronger:
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller…
What doesn’t kill you makes you fighter
Footsteps even lighter
Read more: Kelly Clarkson – Stronger Lyrics | MetroLyrics
I know the song isn’t totally scriptural, but it gets the point across that even the toughest stuff we face God can use to build our lives to be stronger. He can also use trials to strengthen the Body of Christ as a whole.
In one of my daily devotionals recently, Henri Nouwen was writing about the Body and said, “As long as we think about the body of believers as a group of people who share a common faith in Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus remains an inspirational historical figure. But when we realize that the body Jesus fashions in the Eucharist(Holy Communion) is his body, we can start to see what real presence is. Jesus, who is present in the gifts of his Body and Blood, becomes present in the body of believers that is formed by these gifts. We who receive the Body of Christ become the living Christ.” We are knitted together by His presence that we receive through baptism and communion and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and when one part of the Body is hurt, the entire Body suffers, but when one part is strengthened, so the whole Body is.
“The church is the Body of people who know Someone who exist beyond themselves, who know that Person to be the Holy Spirit. It is a wonderful thing to understand that a world exists beyond my grasp even though I cannot see, touch, measure, or control it. In fact, I was made for it to control me. The marvelous reality is that the Ruler of that other world cares more about you and about me than He does about Himself, and if we open ourselves to His presence, He can transform our routine daily existence so that it becomes a window looking into Heaven.” (Dennis Kinlaw)
Therefore, to apply all this to the behavior of adults, we cannot expect those who are not a part of the Body to act in the same fashion as those who are a part of the Body. We must remain light to those who are still walking in darkness, remaining gracious and kind in the midst of challenging relationships. Yet, those adults who are part of the Body and come into conflict with one another, are called to allow God’s Spirit to work towards healing of the Body so that the entire Body can then be strengthened. Jesus prayed to his Father: “May they all be one, just as, Father, you are in me and I am in you, so that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me” (John 17:21).