I read 1 Peter 3 (Select vv. NIV)
In this life, we live with real flesh and blood people, of whom we are also a part. Even though many of us have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, and thus we have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we have been made alive with God, in Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we still live in these flesh bodies. We are still capable of sinning against God and against one another. And, we can still wound one another, if we are not careful.
Yet, this is not to say that we should alter the message so as not to offend people who don’t agree with us. Rather, we should treat others kindly and lovingly – in the same manner in which God (Jesus Christ) treats us.
Be Like-Minded (v. 8a)
Finally, all of you, be like-minded…
So, what does it mean to be “like-minded”? Is that even possible? And, whose mind should we be like? Who sets the standard, in other words?
We hear a lot these days, from our rulers in governments, and from world leaders, and including within the institutional church, on the subject of “unity.” But, what do they mean by “unity”? For, many of them are not speaking about unity with Christ, who is the one who sets the standard, and whose mind we are to be like. They are talking about like-mindedness with human beings, with a global government, and with a one-world religion, or else they are moving us in that direction. They are talking, too, about solidarity with business plans and goals and with the notion that this world can all come together as one united voice so that there can be world peace.
But, what does the Bible say about all that? It says, “They say ‘Peace, peace’ when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14). “While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape” (1 Thess. 5:3). Jesus said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34).
Jesus was speaking figuratively about how his gospel would be rejected by many, and how they would then turn against him and his followers, so, in essence, he did come to turn even family members, one against another, because by following him, it means we will be hated, rejected and mistreated by others, just because of what we believe and what we teach.
So, we must learn to distinguish between unity with Christ and unity with humans in their humanistic philosophies, values, and morals, etc. And, then, if we are going to be like-minded with other believers in Jesus Christ, we must first of all be of one mind with Christ. This means we need to be in the Word daily, listening to what our Savior is saying, and then we must do what he says. The more we get to know him, and the more we follow in his ways, the more we will be like him in our thinking, values, morals, beliefs, doctrines, behaviors, and attitudes. And, then we will be like-minded with other believers who are also of one mind with Christ Jesus, their Lord.
Be Compassionate (vv. 8b-9)
…be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
Until we all become mature in Christ, and reach this unity of the faith, in becoming of one mind with Christ, and like-minded with one another, we need to be sympathetic and compassionate with one another and not grind each other up just because we have a difference of belief or opinion, one from the other.
This is not to say, though, that we should go soft on sin or water down the gospel so as not to offend people. NO! Rather, “speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Eph. 4:15-16).
For, you see, the truth, spoken in love, is kind and it is loving. Lies, on the other hand, are neither loving or kind.
But, speak the Truth (vv. 10-12)
For, “Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
and their lips from deceitful speech.
They must turn from evil and do good;
they must seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
So, we need to speak the truth, but we need to do so in love. So, how do we do that? How do we not compromise truth, and how are we to be the voice of reason, and the voice of God, to the world and to the church, and still be loving and kind? We can do this, if we truly understand what it means to be loving and kind. Jesus did it, but they hated him in return, so obviously “loving and kind” is not some kind of feel good mushy-gushy thing that makes people feel warm and fuzzy all over every time we open our mouths.
The word love is agape love, which is God-like love, which prefers what God prefers, which is what is holy, honorable, just, righteous, pure and trustworthy. God loved us so much that he sent Jesus Christ to die on a cross for our sins, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. So, love is giving of ourselves, self-sacrificially, to meet the legitimate needs of others. In this case, our need was for salvation (deliverance) from slavery to sin so that we could live with Christ for eternity.
So, if we truly love others as Christ loves us, we will willingly lay down our lives and our reputations in order to see them go free from sin addiction. And, this means that we will have to tell them the truth, but to do it in such a way that it demonstrates that our concern is for them to be delivered out of bondage to sin, and not to make the truth so watered down or so ambiguous that our listeners (or readers) are not moved to change at all.
Jesus didn’t mince words, which means he said what he meant clearly and directly, even if people got upset with him. Even though he used parables, too, for those who sought him out, he told them what they meant. And, a lot of his parables were very direct. He wasn’t nasty or hateful, but he was direct and honest, and he often cut to the chase and got right down to business rather than wasting a lot of time with niceties.
I think we have too many people these days “walking on eggshells” so as not to offend or upset other people, and we don’t have enough people who are willing to let go of their own reputations in order to speak the truth in love so that the idolatrous and adulterous church will wake up from her slumber and will follow Christ in surrender and in obedience.
Jesus spoke hard truths, and many rejected him because of it, and, as we know, eventually they killed him. Are we willing to be Jesus to the world and to the church by telling them the truth about their sins, and concerning what God requires of them in thought, word and deed? Even if they hate us?
I’ll Walk with God
Nikolaus Brodszky / Paul Francis Webster
I’ll walk with God
From this day on
His helping hand I’ll lean upon…
And I’ll never walk alone
While I walk with God
Tuesday, November 14, 2017, 7:35 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for these words which you have spoken to my heart today, and for bringing this song to my mind as I awoke this morning. I praise you, and I thank you!