Today, the Lord told me that I should be ready to break my body for others, as He did for us on the cross.Raouf Ghattas
These words of insight came from the pen of my late husband during our early years of ministry overseas. What provoked them? A family fight — not between us or our children or relatives, but within the family of God.
What do you do when the people you are called to serve can’t love or serve each other?
You wash their feet. You break your body on their behalf. You press on, demonstrating the love that Christ first showed you, until they get it or God tells you you’ve done enough.
In over thirty years of ministry, I can say these fights were not limited to churches in certain countries or among specific language groups. They happened everywhere God was at work, because Satan always came close behind, disrupting the unity the Spirit longed to maintain.
Knowing that the bickering and fighting is a result of Satan’s efforts to tear down the church doesn’t make it any easier to deal with, but it does help those of us who are planting churches and discipling or teaching new believers to focus our blame on him and not those we serve.
Don’t get me wrong, those fighting are still responsible for their actions. It’s like knowing there is another source behind a drug dealer. Get to the source, the distributor, and you can then deal with the crime of the dealer.
With the church, this is the trick — getting believers to look past the fight with their brother or sister to see how Satan is playing each of them against the other for his purposes.
As the apostle Paul encouraged those first churches, we have to keep encouraging each other to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”*
The peace of the Body of Christ is not natural, but supernatural, because God’s Family is made up of people from all different backgrounds and levels of society. Only when we look to Christ as our head, do we have true peace.
The effort that this peace takes requires humility, gentleness, patience and forbearance. As our natural man wages war with the spiritual man, our differences bring out a tendency toward pride, roughness, impatience and an unwillingness to yield our way.
Teaching new believers to make the effort toward unity takes great effort on the part of those leading them on the journey.
Are you willing to be broken in that effort? Ask the Lord to give you the strength to persevere when the fights are bitter and unity is strained. Seek discernment through the Spirit to know how to teach, exhort and model as well as when to leave them in God’s hands.
Family fights are never easy, but can be used as valuable lessons toward growth when we’re on the other side.
Grace and Peace
Ephesians 4:3 (NIV)