THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE WAY FORWARD IN CHRIST
UNITY AND PEACE - 2
Paul often talks about what causes conflict and disunity in
Christian communities. In the From the SG article
last July 30 (The Way Forward in Christ, Part 131), we looked
at the list of the works of the flesh in Galatians 5, noting
that the majority, 8 out of 15, had to do with works that
leads to disunity and division (Gal 5:20b-21a). Today Paul
again tackles the same problems, this time with the Colossians.
And during these times, in fact throughout the history of
the Church, the same problems surface very often in the Church
and in Christian communities.
Galatians, Paul contrasts the Spirit and the flesh. Here,
Paul says, “Think of what is above, not of what is of
earth.” (Col 3:2). Then he says, “Put to death,
then, the parts of you that are earthly” (Col 3:5a).
What are these? His first list has to do with what most Christians
would readily see as wrong, such as “immorality, impurity,
passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry.”
(Col 3:2b). These conform to the minority 7 out of 15 in Galatians.
His second list parallels the majority 8 in Galatians, as
follows: “anger, fury, malice, slander, and obscene
language out of your mouths.” (Col 3:8b). Paul says,
“now you must put them all away” (Col 3:8a).
many Christians, including Church workers and leaders, give
way so easily to these. There will always be misunderstandings
and disagreements in community and there will always be instances
when one is hurt by the other, but those can be easily resolved
in a good Christian way. The conflict often starts with the
reaction or responses of people against their brethrenanger,
slander, gossip and the like.
Spirit versus the flesh. What is above versus what is earthly.
The new self versus the old self, as Paul also says, “you
have taken off the old self with its practices and have put
on the new self” (Col 3:9b-10). We know which way to
go, but we often do not go in that way. As Paul kept reminding
the Christian communities in his time, so too do we need to
be reminded of the reality of whom we have become. “If
you then were raised with Christ, seek what is above”
(Col 3:1a). And further, “put on the new self, which
is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator.”
Christians, just as in Paul’s time, fall into these
same sins in relation to their brethren over and over again.
One basic reason is because even if they are renewed, they
keep focusing, in times of difficulty and challenge, on their
brethren rather than on Christ. Instead of looking up they
are looking across (and even looking down on their “opponents”).
If they looked to Christ, the issues are easily resolvedthrough
tolerance, forgiveness and mercy.
we look to Christ our Lord. What do we see?
is the Lord and worthy of much praise, whose grandeur is
beyond understanding.” (Ps 145:3). Everything, including
our life and service, is about our great God. Why then should
we respond, in our own self-righteousness or even justified
pain, in a worldly way that causes strife and disunity?
“The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger
and abounding in mercy.” (Ps 145:8). We are supposed
to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Should we then not
also be slow to anger and merciful, even gracious as we
are attacked and maligned?
Lord is good to all, compassionate toward all your works.”
(Ps 145:9). God is good all the time, so why should we respond
in ways that will negatively affect His work? If our brethren
are not good to us, that is their problem, but we need to
be good to them because God is good to us.
then what should we do?
“Every day I will bless you; I will praise your name
forever and ever.” (Ps 145:2). Always keep your eyes
fixed on Jesus. Always be prayerful. Always ask yourself,
“What would Jesus say or do?” And as Pope Francis
says, if you are tempted to gossip (telling others about
the perceived wrong done to you), bite your tongue. Praise
celebrate your abounding goodness and joyfully sing of your
justice.” (Ps 145:7). God is just, and vengeance belongs
to God. So we simply rest in His goodness and how He wants
to ultimately vindicate us. We maintain our joy in the face
of serious difficulties.
Lord is trustworthy in all his words, and loving in all
his works.” (Ps 145:13b). We can trust in God who
loves us. Does the Lord not want everything to work for
our good? So we take what He allows to come our way, not
doing wrong just because we think someone did us wrong.
“They speak of the glory of your reign and tell of
your mighty works, making known to the sons of men your
mighty acts, the majestic glory of your rule.” (Ps
145:11-12). We focus on God’s work and continue to
serve Him, especially in the proclamation of the gospel.
Still not convinced? Let us then go to Jesus’ sermon
on the plain, as he speaks about the beatitudes. “Blessed
are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult
you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son
of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your
reward will be great in heaven. For their ancestors treated
the prophets in the same way.” (Lk 6:22-23). If you
do good and serve the Lord, and still you feel unappreciated,
discarded or even maligned, then this is your proper posture.
you see? Jesus allows you to be hurt, even by your brethren,
so that you can have the privilege of growing in holiness
by your right Christian responses. But if you respond in a
worldly way, thinking you are justified in doing do, you are
not following the way of Jesus. And you will be used by the
evil one to cause strife and disunity.
hurt? Persecuted? Misunderstood? Maligned? Lied about? Jesus
must really love you. Tell Jesus your struggles (and not your
brethren and sympathizers). Leave everything up to him, and
continue with your life and service in him, with great joy.
Be assured: “When Christ your life appears, then you
too will appear with him in glory.” (Col 3:4).