Growing Pains-April 23, 2012
In my conversation with an old friend we talked about how our relationship with God should affect our relationship with others. These relationships are a complicated mix of family, friends, coworkers, people at the check-out counter, fellow church folks, those we have disagreements with, and even our “enemies.” The Bible speaks of how we are to deal with others and so my friend makes this comment:
“It has been my practice to deal with those who have hurt me our hurt my family cordially because that’s what I thought God wanted from me. Now I am realizing more each day that God doesn’t want me to deal with them cordially only but redemptively as well.”
The work of Christ is a difficult work, and becomes more so when we do not allow Christ to work in and through our lives, as if we know better than him. Relationally speaking it’s always about bringing people to Christ in a real and redemptive way. The church as “the body of Christ” must also be doing the work of Christ or else it may still be a body that exists but exists without purpose, calling, or direction and will continue to grow lifeless because it has not the life of Christ to offer the world.
It may be far easier to treat others cordially and continue to harbor resentment or a grudge towards them. In treating them cordially other observers may say we are good or nice people for doing so. However, relating to others in a redemptive way brings glory to God. As a church grows toward maturity in Christ and relationships become redemptive, and in so doing it is not us that gets the praise but God working this great thing in our lives receiving the glory. A mature people and church seek a redemptive pattern in their relationships, not because we have not been wronged or hurt but because of Christ in our lives. Redemptive living doesn’t happen with human strength but by God’s help. It is more than just tolerating another it is the working of Christ in us.
God’s kingdom work is about more than doctrine it is about relational living. Living that draws others to Christ to mend their lives and relationships to others through their relationship with Christ. Redemptive living is not a work we can do, it is a work that God does through us. What we can do is surrender. Surrender our right to ourselves or our right to hold a grudge by what someone has done to hurt us. This doesn’t mean that we won’t experience hurt, but rather allow the Lordship of Christ to reign in our lives and give us peace in those circumstances so that redemptive living is possible. In doing so, it won’t be a work others praise us for but it gives glory to God.
In our faith journey we need to seek more than just to be born again, but rather that we would grow to the full measure and maturity in Christ. In maturity, there is less of us for our sake and more redemptive living through Christ for God’s sake and the sake of His glory. How we live, do business, relate to family, church friends, difficult people, and yes even “enemies” will say far more about our relationship with the Lord than it does about these others we tolerate cordially rather than trying to embrace redemptively. These are some of the growing pains of becoming mature in Christ.