The "everyone" factor.
Maybe it's another rhetorical question. There are many of them these days. Already there's the wonderful possibility that the human tensions so apparent in our nation could be remedied if the 70,000,000 Christians in America treated one another with biblical obedience. Sure, there's also the mitigating truth that a vast majority of our citizens are not professing Christians. So, let's dream a little. What would life be in our piece of the world if the community of believers knew the biblical expectations of our relationship with those outside the body of faith, and lived those principles in our daily lives? Is that more far-fetched rhetoric? Pray not!
The truth is we're supposed to influence this world as salt and light. For some us that's just a pipe-dream, our Sunday morning wishes and aspirations. In my mind, however, Jesus prepared his followers to live, serve, and obey God in just this kind of world. And, there are many Scripture passages that reference how the world is going to respond to our motions, however noble. Just the same, God's Word clearly identifies how our professed Christian faith is to be expressed to those of other faith orientations, or even those without them. In this context I cannot list every instruction about the inter-personal dynamics of our interaction with others. But, lately, I've been impressed with what I will call the "everyone" factor. They provide ample direction for the ways we relate to people beyond the shared virtue of life with fellow Christians. Let me offer a few---
Do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the
church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not
seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
1 Corinthians 10:31-33, ESV
But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to
practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open
statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's
conscience in the sight of God.
2 Corinthians 4:2, ESV
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and
especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Galatians 6:10, ESV
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand.
Philippians 4:5, ESV
See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to
one another and to everyone.
1 Thessalonians 5:15, ESV
And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone.
2 Timothy 2:24, ESV
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no
one will see the Lord.
Hebrews 12:14, ESV
1 Peter 2:17, ESV
And, as usual, there are many more.
What is often frustrating about these times, and perhaps many others in history, is the defeatist attitude so evident in believers as we contemplate the ills of our culture. This is especially true when we consider the racial tension that has divided our nation. Yes, there is nothing new under the sun (see Ecclesiastes 1:9). Egocentric humans have been at odds since Cain killed his brother Abel (see Genesis 4:8). Everything from politics, education, religion, family issues, race, geographical lines, ethical preferences, and which sports teams we support have moved us into opposing camps.
God has sent his people into this kind of world to influence it. The demographic realities of this time in history, in this nation, is that Christians should impact the critical realities that our human nature have created. If every believer of every belief system treated each other according to the biblical standards, the racial tensions that are so obvious could be eased. That is true as well if every Christian obeyed these "everyone" expectations.
We have our meetings and conferences, devise new and revolutionary strategies to get people on the same page, seek government solutions for human tendencies. That is all well and good. Thankfully these devices do communicate and educate. But, then, there's the old, old story of Jesus and his love. The mechanics of getting along aren't that complicated. They are recorded for us in the greatest book ever written. The trouble is, a great number of us don't know them. And, even more, a vast majority of us will not obey them.
My prayer is that we Christians will learn the sanctity of our precious "one another" relationships, and the blessing of living God's truth with "everyone".
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