As born-again believers, we are reminded from the Sunday pulpit, to be an example to lost; the unbelievers in the world. It’s our testimony, our responsiblity in our Christian walk to LOVE the un-lovely. Scripture backs all this up!
“Little children, let us not LOVE [merely] in theory or in speech but in deed and in truth (in practice and in sincerity)” 1 John 3:18.
“He who does not LOVE has not become acquainted with God, for God is LOVE” 1 John 4:8.
“And we know (understand and recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the LOVE God cherishes for us. God is LOVE, and he who dwells and continues in LOVE dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in Him” 1 John 4:16.
Those three verses in 1 John, are only a few verses that talk about our true identity in a lost world. We are to put on Christ’s LOVE. toward the man begging holding a sign on a street corner; a person whose limited vocabulary consists of only four-letter words; the lady who goes through the “15 items or less” check-stand at the grocery store, with a basket full of items. Hopefully, our reactions should demonstrate who we are in Jesus; our LOVE towards others, our real identities, regardless of the circumstance. If not, they will see in us The “Naked” Truth; the emperor’s new clothes.
“WHO AM I” IN THE CHURCH; How do Christians recognize me?
“Be gentle and forbearing with one another…” Colossians 3:13.
What does “forbearing” mean, or in the N.I.V. translation; “Bear with each other”? It means to be patient with other believers in the church body. Why is it that we are the patient with some things or people and not with the family of God?
Ask yourself these questions: “What should my relationship be with the rest of the body in Christ?” “How do people in church see me?” “What is Our Identity in The Church?” Turn with me in your Bibles to “The Letter of Paul to the Ephesians” church:
“Living as becomes [Mel] with complete lowliness of mind (humility) and meekness (unselfishness, gentleness, mildness), with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you LOVE one another.”
Because of what reason? Mel, you are to “LOVE one another“! Often when I read Scripture verses and come across a personal pronoun, like “you“, I make it personal and insert my name. Try it sometime. It can sometimes shine a light on the words.
LOVING THE BODY: Do they see in you the “Naked” truth?.
Colossians reminds us as members of the same body, the Church, how we are to be recognized. For we are the church; the church isn’t that building we go to on Sundays: “purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself]” Colossians 3:12. Now re-read those words but this time, insert your name before reading; “[your first name] is…“purified and holy and well-beloved”. Since God Himself is observing your true identity; your loving attitude towards others in the church, knowing this should remind us who we really are. We are God’s “own picked representatives” [Colossians 3:12 AMPLIFIED]. We clothed ourselves before coming into church on Sunday mornings as God’s representatives; for other’s sake and not for our own sake. “WOW! God picked me out. God chose Mel as His personal representative!”
Colossians 3:13 continues, “and” …walking in the Truth, we are to forgive; “pardoning each other” as we go. For just SOME of the “complaints or “grievances”? That’s NOT LOVE! No, “whatever grievances”. If I have a difference of opinion, if I have a complaint in the body of Christ (the CHURCH), I need to walk in the Truth [God’s Word], and not be exposed; not “naked” as in “The Emperor’s New Clothes” story. How many bodies of Christ have become dis-jointed in the land because of their “nakedness”; their “grievances”, their “complaints”?
WHAT’S THE ACTION PLAN IN PLACE?
Who was the Apostle Paul writing to? To you and I; the church! With the putting on of your new clothes; your new attitude toward others in the church, we are given a plan to follow:
1. FORGIVENESS; “even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you”. REMEMBER THIS: The word given is, FOR GIVE- NESS! Not FOR SALE- NESS! LOVE isn’t for sale; “I’ll love you if you will love me”.
2. TO PARDON OTHERS; to set free from my attitude of selfishness. Mel’s imposed punishment.
IS THERE A KEY IN THE ACTION PLAN IN “FORGIVING OTHERS”?
Remember how much God has forgiven you! It’s difficult at times to forgive someone who has wronged you a little when God has forgiven you so much.
“And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tender-hearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another…” (Eph. 4:32).
Realizing God’s infinite [without limits, endless immeasurable] LOVE and FORGIVENESS.
“SO, WHO AM I IN CHRIST?”
You should now know the Truth to your identity in the relationships surrounding you every day:
1. I AM Holy.
2. I AM hand-picked.
3. I AM God’s chosen representative.
4. I AM clothed, covered and enveloped.
5. I AM unselfish.
6. I AM patient with others in the body of Christ.
7. I AM NOT judgemental…at all!
All of the “I AM’s” come from God’s LOVE, not from your own will. With out the power from the Holy Spirit, your Helper and friend, you can’t, you will not change. How do I know that for sure? Because God says so every day. And if God says it…I can believe it!
Your LOVE for others will be tested. I have personally gone through those tests about loving others for Christ sake. But then again “others” have probably been tested in loving Mel at various times and situations.
Once more I will leave you with God’s words given to the Colossian’s church; We are the church!
“Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive]” (Col. 3:13).
“That’s Who I am”. Who are you?