THE SERVANT GENERAL
OUR THEME FOR 2011
PEACE AND UNITY
We need the strength of God to live our lives according to
His will and to do our work according to His plan. Now we
have been called as a community, to be one body that will
be His effective instrument. The strength of CFC-FFL will
depend, among other things, on peace and unity in the body.
Our enemy seeks to destroy us and our work, and one effective
way he does that is to foment strife and conflict, so that
we will not be at peace with one another.
enemy is helped by our own sinful flesh, by our own weaknesses
and failures in fraternal relationships. Indeed, the sad reality
in Christian communities is that “there are also many
rebels, idle talkers and deceivers” (Ti 1:10) right
there among us.
peace and unity will depend not on our liking each other,
or on having agreeable leaders, or having in place the processes
with which to resolve conflicts, though all these would certainly
be helpful. But peace and unity depend on and are founded
on Christ. Indeed, our strength is dependent on Christ and
the rightness of our focus on him.
So how are we to work at peace and unity? Or, since our strength
is in Christ, what does the Lord tell us about how we are
to conduct our relationships in community? Today’s reading
from Paul’s letter to Titus (Ti 3:1-7) instructs us.
we basically look to the strength that comes from a relationship
with Christ, we also look at two other relationships, one
looking up and one looking across.
relationship is to authority in the body. It is submission
to those leaders who have been placed over us. We live in
community where God has given us servant leaders, who are
tasked with the care of the flock and the oversight of our
mission. Every person thinks differently, and would have different
priorities, preferences, personalities, etc. So community
cannot be peaceful and united if each person just does what
he thinks best. It is the place of the governing authority
in the body to decide how the community is to move forward
in pursuing its life and mission.
the posture of each member of the body is this: “to
be under the control of .... authorities, to be obedient,
to be open to every good enterprise.” (Ti 3:1). Members
voluntarily and willingly submit themselves to authority,
for the greater good. They are open to whatever activities,
actions and events that the governing authority might propose,
for the furtherance of the community’s mission.
this is not blind obedience. We are not a cult. It is active
submission, where there indeed is the basic posture of obedience
to authority, but where one can interpose questions, ask for
clarification, have a good discussion, suggest alternatives,
and even ask for matters to be elevated to a higher authority.
We are all co-equal participants in the life and mission of
the body, and so our inputs and ideas are welcome. But at
the end of the day, one needs to decide. That is where submission
to authority becomes important.
The other relationship is to our brethren. This means everyone,
leader and member alike. This is Paul’s instruction:
“They are to slander no one, to be peaceable, considerate,
exercising all graciousness toward everyone.” (Ti 3:2).
do we live in peace with each other?
We slander no one. We do not speak ill of another, even if
there is actually something wrong with that person. If we
need to address a wrong, we go directly to the person and
give fraternal correction, or else we go to a leader who has
pastoral oversight over the person.
are peaceable. We do not fight with others. We are not antagonistic
towards anyone. We do not nurse resentments or grudges. We
are patient and tolerant and forgiving. We “avoid foolish
arguments, genealogies, rivalries, and quarrels about the
law (being legalistic)” (Ti 3:9).
We are considerate. We are kind and solicitous, always on
the lookout as to how we can serve others. We are mindful
of the struggles and pain of our brethren, ever ready to minister
to them. We recognize the weaknesses of others but do not
judge or condemn them. We want our brethren to move forward
in their life in Christ, and we help in whatever way we can.
are gracious to everyone. We are nice and pleasant in our
relationships. We are to be channels of God’s grace
for others. We are “eager to do what is good”
(Ti 2:14), so that others may benefit. We “devote (ourselves)
to good works to supply urgent needs” (Ti 3:14). We
What helps us to do the above, which is quite difficult, is
to realize who we were before Christ, and why we are who we
Before (and perhaps even now), “we ourselves were once
foolish, disobedient, deluded, slaves to various desires and
pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful ourselves and
hating one another.” (Ti 3:3). Wow! We indeed were lost.
What a terrible state of life we were in. “But when
the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared,
he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the
holy Spirit.” (Ti 3:4,5b). God, out of His great love
for us, plucked us out of darkness and renewed us in His Spirit.
And God did this “not because of any righteous deeds
we had done but because of his mercy” (Ti 3:5a). It
was the free gift of God, undeserved by us, but given nonetheless.
this is what God has done for us, we must respond accordingly.
God has now given us the opportunity to share that great love
with many others. This is the work of our community. We must
be passionate in that work. And we must recognize that our
life and work will be strong only if we are at peace and are
in deference to God who restored and renewed us, we submit
to the leaders He has placed over us, as these servant leaders
represent Him. And in recognition of our own sorry state apart
from the grace of God, with all humility and a recognition
of our own unworthiness, we relate to all our brethren with
graciousness and fraternal love.
we do these, then we will have peace and unity in our community.
Then we will be able to do our mission in the power of the
Holy Spirit. Then we can rightly say that our God is now our
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