March 5, 2014
READ: Ephesians 4:1-16
Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace (v.3).
April 2013 marked a milestone birthday for me. To celebrate, we took a long trip to my old
university. Numerous tollbooths, scenic beach views and city excursions marked our unforgettable holiday. The highlight for my husband and me, though, was a little unexpected: it was that our kids had actually enjoyed being together for an extended period of time.
Friction in any relationship is normal, even more so for family members who spend a great deal of time together. How interesting, then, that we become easily dismayed when we encounter conflict in our closest relationships—especially in the church. Like any family, the body of Christ is a combination of varied personalities, hidden quirks and diverse needs. Though we’re all believers in Jesus, we’re far from carbon copies.
Sometimes, sermons regarding keeping harmony in the body of Christ can seem like simple admonitions to ‘play nice’ with one another. But unity in the Spirit offers much more. If conflict is a given, we must ask ourselves not only what God requires of us in times of discord but also what gift He offers in our pursuit of peace (Psalm 34:14-15; Ephesians 2:14-22).
While, as parents, we valued not having to mediate between our kids, the greatest pleasure came in the closeness we had with them in the absence of arguing. The choice to lay down offences, work through conflict and show Christ-like love is a reflection of our unity in Christ (Romans 15:5-6,13). We may be individuals, but we’re also part of a body. Jesus “makes the whole body fit together perfectly . . . healthy and growing and full of love” (Ephesians 4:16). —Regina Franklin
Joshua 23:1-16 ‹365-day plan
Read Romans 14:1-19 and consider how we can love other believers in Jesus even when we disagree in matters of freedom and conscience.
In what relationships are you sensing discord? How can you pursue peace in a way that addresses conflict in an authentic and healthy way?