I’m never more sickened than when I see a Christian (myself included) snarl their nose up at another person in disdain for their behavior, circumstance, opinion or position in life, but I see it so often. We tend to use a person’s station in life to judge whether or not they should be allowed entry into our world. I’m not talking about entry into Heaven; no Christian in their right mind wouldn’t want every soul in Heaven, but many don’t want them in their space down here. Believe me when I say “I get” when people make you uncomfortable for any number of reasons. Their language, their demeanor, their culture, their attitude… it’s a long list! But as children of God it is unacceptable to not accept them; and not just on your earth, but on your island.
In 2 Corinthians Paul was counseling the church of Corinth (in the Bible according to Shari, and we know that’s dangerous) But as I understand there had been a man excommunicated from the church, the reason not known. And I believe that’s because for future reference God wanted you to be able to fit it to your circumstance, so He left the reasoning broad. But none the less many people in the church had punished this man. So much so that he was at risk of being swallowed up in sorrow. So Paul advises them to prove their love to him by forgiving everything he did and giving this man a fresh start at grace.
2:6-11 ~ Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
I dare say that no Christian is immune to falling into the snare of Satan when opposite world’s collide: Sinner/Saint, Rich/Poor, Democrat/Republican, Bold/Meek, Zealot/Passive, I won’t even go in to denominations! It’s not so much forgiveness that I’m talking about as much as it is acceptance. Sometimes we’ll be forgiving but will not be befriending. We want them on earth, but not on our island. At a distance they don’t make us uncomfortable.
When I began to pray and search for a topic this morning the word comfort came into my thoughts because that’s what I personally am in need of. But a trip down that path lead to a fork in the road and then as only God can do it came back to the original path. As if to say “I know you need comfort Shari, but you can’t have it without finding the source of the discomfort and getting rid of it.” So we went off my path to His own and then back to mine, and in so doing I found what I was looking for.
Paul told the Philippian Church in Philippians 2:1-4 ~ If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
There will never be comfort in any body of believers unless there is unity, and not just among a single church, but the entire body of Christ. (Those believing that Jesus is the way the truth the life, and no other).
God’s advice to me… you’ll find not only the comfort you’re searching for, but the answers you’re searching for when you love my people… all of them.