This is going to be a very short exhortation. For this reasonĖI want you to pay attention all the way to the end, because itís important. Let me first state some facts, or at least some premises I hope are not false. I am speaking to:
a chosen generation,
a royal priesthood,
a holy nation,
a purchased people, a people who show forth praises to Him who has called them out of darkness into His marvelous light
the elect according to the foreknowledge of God
strangers and pilgrims on the earth seeking a city which hath foundations
part of a holy family to whom God has said I will be a Father to you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters
So why all this trouble and dissension in the church? I hear of backbiting, gossip, brethren not speaking to one another, dogmatism, jealousy, grievances, real or imagined. Isnít it a fact that some of you have some of these feelings about someone else right now? Is it pretty close to hatred? Are you praying for all the household? If any of you feels like Iím talking about you, feel free to think it. Iím not talking about any one of you, but I am talking about each and every one of us.
Iím not so naive to think this talk will make everything all better. Weíre always going to have differences of opinion, arguments, even strife. But at least letís strive to behave like a real family. People that have a real family know what I mean. After a lot of bickering and yelling, thereís also a lot of kissing and making up. Why? Because thereís real love in a real family. And real love is not always present among members of a church. Sometimes these feelings can smoulder on for years. We need to honor our brethren in Christ in order to consider ourselves a brother or sister of Christ.
Remember who the children of God are. They are peacemakers. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. Nobody pays much attention to Christís injunction about how to handle grievances:
If your brother trespasses against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone;
if he hears you, youíve gained a brother.
If not, take one to three witnesses. If he neglect
To hear them, tell it to the church, if he neglect to hear
the church, consider him a heathen or Publican. (Matt 18. 15 - 18)
If you start following this practice, donít immediately assume who has role of sinner in the matter. Nobodyís ever 100% right or wrong. Paul feared when he visited Corinth (2Cor 12. 20) that he would find there debates, envying, strife, backbiting, whisperings and tumults. Why afraid? For one, ancient Israel was like that and God forsook them.