This week has been a rough one for the littlest sister. I won't go into details here, but she's been sad and her heart has been hurting. She's my sister. We're "cut from the same cloth"..."kindred spirits". When she hurts, I hurt. Physically and emotionally. I don't know if that's normal or unusual because I've never known anything else. I have 3 sisters, and we all not only love each other, but we like each other too. We enjoy spending time together. Whenever I go home, I always see a sister. I don't always see my friends, but I always see at least one sister. That's what we do. The oldest is coming through Atlanta on Thursday, so we're going to get coffee. That's what we do too. Coffee. It's our thing. Sister-friendships and coffee.
Anyway... thinking about how my sister's pain causes me pain and how seeing any of them happy makes me happy got me thinking about another family I'm in...the family of God. I taught in Sunday School this week, and our lesson was about how nothing can take us out of the family of God once we're in. It's the same type of bond that we share with our physical families. Just like nothing I do can change my DNA and make me no longer related to my biological family, nothing I do can change my status in the family of God. Once you accept His gift of salvation, you're in forever.
Paul writes to the Romans about how we, as Christians, should act...
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.
Never be wise in your own sight.
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
All those things in italics remind me of my relationship with my sisters. Or how it should be. That's how our relationships with ALL other Christians should be. With ALL PEOPLE even. The verse that confirms this for me is 18... "so far as it depends on you...". So many times I allow my self to get in the way and I don't let the love of God shine through me. So many times I base my actions and reactions on the actions of others. That's really not smart. Especially if that other person is not a Christian.
I grew up fighting with my sisters. I still fight with my sisters. But if any of you decided to fight with my sisters, you'd have to go through me. Back in May, I wrote a blog about how stupid it is for us (Christians) to fight with each other when we're really on the same side of the battle. Ephesians tells us our battles aren't against flesh and blood anyway. And Exodus tells us that the Lord will fight for us, so we just have to be still (and not try to fight for ourselves). But here we are...fighting amongst ourselves instead of sticking up for each other like siblings. We don't defend each other against our enemy. We don't go to the Lord in prayer on behalf of each other nearly enough. We don't try to outdo each other in showing honor. We try to outdo each other in popularity and recognition and accolades. (Pharisees, anyone?) If possible, as far as it depends on us, we look our for ourselves. If our needs are met and everything we want is happening, then we'll be perfectly peacable with each other. If not, then the gloves come off and Lord help whoever is in our way. Because obviously our personal agenda is much more important than God's agenda, right? No. Not according to Paul in Romans 12. Paul says we're supposed to bless those who persecute us. What do you think that means we should do for those who love us? Good news. Read it again. He tells us. Thanks, Paul!
Let me assure you that I do not get this right.
Especially Even with my biological siblings. But I'm trying. Ask me about it. I'm trying to be more like Jesus. I want to be more like Jesus. And it sure is a process! Hold me accountable. And let's try to live like Paul tells us to.