We tend to be the same way with our children. We give our children a longer leash than anyone else in our lives. We do this because we know they have to grow and we understand that in their maturation process they are going to make mistakes.
What if we took the same approach to believing in others as we take with our children? What if we allowed people to have their own personality, their own weaknesses and strengths, and their own opinions about those things which were not matters of faith? If we could do this the church would be better, happier, and more love and peace and joy would abound in our fellowship.Unfortunately we often don’t practice brotherly love. One of the last things Jesus told His disciples was, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.” Jesus knew that not only was this best for the hearts of all believers, it would be what distinguished them from the world.
Why is it then that we seem to judge our brethren more harshly than anyone else? While Paul taught the Corinthians to work out matters amongst themselves, and to examine themselves individually and collectively and to deal with sin in the church, the overtone of the whole experience still expressed the need for humility and grace and love. Why is it that from time to time we stereotype our brethren, think the worst of the best people, and tend to write off the people with whom we worship as soon as they do something we don’t like or approve?The church everywhere could be benefited with a heaping dose of humility. In a world so full of sin and strife the church is supposed to be a refuge. We can stand for truth without being hall monitors. We can preach the saving gospel without always making the worst kind of assumptions about people, especially when we have scarcely sacrificed any of our time and energy to truly understand them.
If you want the church to grow, if you want it to be full of peace and comfort, if you want it to be a place where joy and love abound – then you need to believe in the people. Don’t go to church, be the church. Don’t be a part of a click, but get out of your comfort zone and fellowship with the whole body. Learn about your brethren, their lives, their circumstances, their dreams, and their challenges. See how God is working through them, and look for something in them that you know you need yourself.
Sitting next to you in the pew or across the building somewhere are the people who are the salt of the earth. They are the best of this world, so believe the best about them. They are the blood-bought people of God. They are the faithful followers of Jehovah. They are the people who truly make up your spiritual and eternal family. They deserve the benefit of the doubt. They deserve your love and affection. They deserve your time and effort. They deserved to be loved with the love of Christ.To my church family: I love you. I believe in you. And I am happy to call you, “brethren.”
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” – 1 John 4:7