“By this, all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
Fellowship consists of Christians who gather for the purpose of maintaining their oneness in Christ (among other holy reasons). These Christians, as you may have well noticed, are human beings, and while we are made in the image of God, are not God, neither were we designed to meet each and every single need of all the creatures in our proximity. We are finite, once fallen and redeemed by the precious blood creatures and can only serve according to the grace that God has distributed to each one of us.
Given that we are so limited and that we are formed from dust (Psalm 103:14), there is much room for hurt in fellowship. We are not just composed of God’s spirit within us but are also flesh, and although we will not shout it on the mountaintops are each aware of the tendencies we have when in the flesh. Brothers and sisters, there is so much room for us to love one another. We each fail so much, and how much more would the grace of God abound if we loved one another despite our offenses thus, showing our unity and oneness to the world? We need not be selfish and feel entitled to apologies,neither have we any right to keep record of wrongs committed against us, especially by those in fellowship. That the Lord has done his share of disciplining me in this area would be an understatement. It is a training to learn to constantly choose to love the brethren.
We are exhorted by Paul in Ephesians to “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3 (NIV)”. We can take this time to ask ourselves what it means to “make every effort”. The latter portion concerning keeping unity of the Spirit is more simple to grasp. To make every effort is however is more difficult to understand because it can be unclear how much effort exactly we should set forth before we have done enough. Brothers and sisters, I believe that we must simply give our whole hearts to the Lord and rely on Him to provide us wisdom in difficult situations. I believe He is more concerned that we give our whole hearts and press forward with every intention of loving and forgetting wrongs done to us, than he is concerned with us trying recall each time we did not extend forgiveness. If we are able to recall someone we did not extend forgiveness to, that is a blessings and the Lord will open a door for us to make peace with that person. I believe that we can “make every effort by praying he will open a door for peace to be made”.
Each time I have prayed that the Lord would work to sovereignly arrange for reconciliation to take place, He has been faithful to open a door and this is important for maintaining the bond of peace. It is also how we uphold our testimony before the Lord, that we are his disciples, and that we love one another. Something practical that I remind myself is that the same blood that covers my sins against the Lord, also covers sins committed against me.
Let us always maintain the bond of peace and seek Him for who He is.