Romans 14:19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
Once again we are reminded that whereas Christ died for each individual, He didn’t do so for us to be self-centered and isolated. The Body of Christ is a community, an organism, and we are all interrelated with one another. We are to seek peace, that is, to minimize friction and conflict, and we are to help one another grow spiritually. (That’s what “edification” means. In some churches, with church dinners and the like, it seems like they help one another grow fat!) The tension comes when spiritual growth calls for confrontation. That feels like a violation of “seeking peace,” but in reality it isn’t, because unconfronted problems fester and grow. We are to love one another enough to say and do even the hard things, but always in love. True community isn’t easy, but it’s certainly worth it. We live in an increasingly narcissistic, self-centered society, and that directly contradicts true community. The other day I was at Universal Studios Japan, and I couldn’t count all the people taking “selfies,” even having a special pole to hold their phone at a good distance and angle for the purpose. Narcissism never leads to either happiness or spiritual growth. We speak of “selflessness” as though it were an impossibly high and noble thing, when in reality we don’t really aim for it. It is when we realize how selfless Jesus was for us that we become able to give ourselves for others, and so taste the joy that He knew. (Hebrews 12:2)
In marriage counseling I always bring up the truth that when we are focused on our own happiness, that happiness becomes ever more ephemeral, but when we focus on the happiness of our partner, our own happiness become ever more solid and real. That is of course the most intimate of all human relationships, but the same principle applies to some extent to all our interactions. I have always despised conflict, and still tend to run from it, but that is seldom the route to spiritual growth and real peace. The difficulty lies in expressing what needs to be said in a way that will be received as love, rather than an attack. That’s where relationship-building comes in. If my actions and attitudes have demonstrated love consistently, then even strong words will be received as love. If that foundation isn’t there, then even mild correction can produce a violent reaction. I’ve had it happen! I need to love people enough to do whatever is necessary for their good, so that the Body of Christ may be built up.
Father, thank You for the various opportunities You give me as Your agent of blessing, in word and in deed. Thank You for the opportunities I know I’ll have today. Help me make full use of them as You intend, so that my brothers and sisters may be built up as the disciples that You created them to be, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!