love covers a multitude of sins
by: allison slater
executive assistant, step out
I was having a discussion with my husband and we were discussing a complex topic that most of us just run over in the midst of everyday woes and normality of life. The topic started about the behavior of “saved” people and the expectation thereof. When we give our lives to Christ and then move on with daily living, there is an expectation of the “saved” to go to church and be good little Christians. Little is discussed about the process and how the giving your life over to Jesus will cause deep waves, ripples, and even shake the ground you have so firmly based your life upon. I’m not here today to discuss the process, because that would take more than one article. I’m here to discuss how we as Christians, Believers, or rather the Body of Christ, treat others within the body as they go through the sanctification process.
Sanctification briefly can be described as the process in which we are transformed over time to be more like Christ. (Rom. 8:9-11; Eph. 1:13-14; Eph. 4:24) This process doesn’t happen over night and it’s definitely not easy. Sanctification can be incredibly beautiful if looked at from the right perspective, but to the outsider, the one who is watching it, it looks like a pig thrashing in a pile of mud being sprayed by a farmer with cold water. (You know you laughed.) When a person starts this process there is usually a lot of sympathy from the surrounding body of Christ. There is even a sweet term we use in the church for these new believers when they are learning how to walk. The term is “Baby Christian.” This term is meant to make the new believer feel at ease with what they are experiencing. It gives the elder, more mature Christian a perspective that softens the field of correction, so they can experience the raising of a new generation with patience and love.
So what happens after the baby learns to walk and talk, does it automatically know how to pay bills and get on with adult living? No. In the body, once a believer has been “in” the body for a certain amount of time, those around them start to lose patience with helping them stand back up, AGAIN, and reminding them to finish their peas! I mean reading. When they have reached an age of maturity and they are almost in that teen phase of rebellion because they know everything! As the more mature believer, you have to be kind and firm, making sure they are surrounded by support and not led astray as they become adults in the spiritual world. When they are in their early twenties, it’s time to let them walk on their own. That’s when they get married (to Jesus) and have kids (create disciples). Except at this stage of believing or the walk, most people are married and have kids already in the natural. The process of growing in the word has been happening all along in their homes while trying to maintain the lives they have already settled into. Some believers struggle with coming up or being raised in the “church” and which leaves some ill prepared for the life ahead of them in their faith walks. There are certain things that can only be learned through trials, testing, and refinement as an adult. It’s easy to have like a child when you are still a child, but can you withstand, having done all to stand, as an adult?
The point here isn’t to rag on either category of believer. It’s also not to create divisiveness between them. My experience is that each believer, whether brand new or life long, has their challenges and things to overcome. My focus is on you. The body - the WHOLE body. How you treating our brothers and sisters in Christ?
If you are married, you can understand that being with the same person for a long time in the same house, the same room, can start to become agitating and you start to recognize EVERYTHING that is wrong with that person. Heck, if you grew up with siblings, you KNOW what I’m talking about. As believers, we are focusing on so many things along with keeping our relationships with Christ intact. On top of all our responsibilities and we wonder why that other believer doesn’t have their crap together. As the body we stack our lives against theirs and start comparing. We have a condemning spirit in our hearts for those who are apart of the body. We no longer see them as lost, as they are found, or blind, because they should be seeing. Our compassion, patience, and tolerance for these people has waxed and waned. That is why the body isn’t functioning as a solid unit or a force to reckoned with. We are a bunch of people yelling at each other on a cruise ship that’s about to sink. We yell about where the right exit is and how can the person standing next to us not know?! It’s ridiculous. As believers, we have lost the perspective that our brothers or sisters deserve just as much compassion, love and forgiveness as those lost to this world.
The divisive nature of this spirit is rampant in the body of Christ. Division is Satan’s goal, not just in denomination and affiliation but in our homes. Christ didn’t say that we should forgive 70 times 7 times a day because the unbelievers are that terrible and horrible of a people. “Stay in your homes or they will cause you to fall back into your sinful ways!” He said it because the enemy is like a roaring lion, prowling and seeking WHOM HE MAY DEVOUR. (1 Peter 5:8) This isn’t colloquialism for “he’s going to eat everyone!” He is looking for those who are unaware of his presence and tactics. He is waiting for a door to open and for us, as the body, to not be vigilant or even sober!
If you are listening to the Holy Spirit, you will hear Him. He is urging in the body to care for one another. When reading 1 Peter 4:7-10, it urges to, “be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister to to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” This language is directly addressing the body of Christ, that we should be loving one another with intent and vigor. It’s important to understand that we can accomplish nothing together if we will not obey God to love one another and pay attention.