See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.Hebrews 12:15
If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.Galatians 5:15
You shall not hate your brother in your heart … You shall not take revenge or bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.Leviticus 19:17-18
The history of God’s people is littered with the scandalous events of religious wars, mutual excommunications, and other acts of hatred that severely compromise the witness of Christianity and of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The fruit of such adversarial behavior is exactly what Scripture warns us would come about: defilement, disorder, destruction.
As always, however, what the world sees from the outside is simply the overflow of what resides in our hearts. The challenge to take on the Lord’s character is a steep one. After all, many of us are heirs to attitudes and perspectives that are inimical to love and unity. We might not publicly fulminate against our brothers and sisters, but our thoughts can sometimes betray a contempt toward them that – while it remains hidden from view – diminishes our ability to express the kindness, mercy, grace, and peace that the Father desires to see among his people.
As we noted in our opening thoughts, we find ourselves in need of conversion. The Holy Spirit is keen to sow seeds of humility and to open our eyes to God’s perspective on our fellow believers, cleansing the inside of the cup as well as the outside, revealing a pure heart AND clean hands to the glory of his name.
Lord, first and foremost, we pray that we might always choose to see the good in our brothers and sisters. When we see differences in worship or ways of thinking, enable us to understand and to see our differences as opportunities for learning. Help us Lord to be peacemakers, and to do whatever we can to bring your people together. Amen.