If our church is going into building-mode, then we need to set some ground rules; those rules start at the foot of the cross.
15 “If you love me, keep my commands. John 14:15
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34
13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13
There are always deep feelings associated with any building project within an established church body. We must proceed with extreme tenderness and compassion–wait, I’ve read something like that before: 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” Ephesians 4:32. Jesus made it very clear how He wanted us to live and treat each other,
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:20-23
You’ll notice two types of highlighting in those verses. The underlined ones are the way we are supposed to see each other and treat each other. The bolded ones are the result of us doing the underlined parts. Our best witness is done not by what we say to outsiders, but by how we treat each other inside the doors of our church. “They’ll know we are Christians by our love” is our song; it speaks our mission on both sides of the coin:
Love each other, care about your neighbor.
Even as we consider others before ourselves, we are to treat each other with kindness, tenderness and compassion. In this way the world will know that we are His disciples. Our goal should be for those who know us but don’t know Christ to say, “See how they love one another!”*
Abba, our–Your–reputation is on the line. How we treat each other over the next few months will tell the tale to the community of whether or not we take seriously our commitment to Christ and His mission. There is another set of folks that we must consider during this time, and that is our children. How we react/respond to each other will make a difference in their view of You, Abba, Your church, and in their involvement in church life when they are adults. May we weigh everything we say against the weight of the cross upon our shoulders as we take up our cross and follow You daily. Amen.
*”See how they love one another,” from “Let People Say of Us…” In the early Church, Tertullian tells us that pagans were struck by the witness of Christian love. “See how they love one another!” they would remark.