Today our pastor used the word compassion in his message outline…so of course, when he said “compassion” inside my head I thought “ding! ding! ding!” Compassion is my word of the year for 2009, and anytime I hear that word mentioned or I read it in the Word my heart is extra sensitive towards what is being shared.
Our church was sharing the Lord’s Supper today and so much of the sermon beforehand was about division in the church. He made some very good (and convicting) points that I thought I would share.
The scripture he centered his message around is 1 Cor. 11:17-22. “Now in giving these instructions (for the Lord’s Supper) I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others, and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.”
I’m just going to share with you one point that he made…the problem Paul mentions about division in the church.
Our pastor shared that when we begin focusing on ourselves and following ourselves and the desires of our heart and NOT God and what HE wants, there will always be division. As believers, however, we are to focus on being filled with the Spirit and walking in the Spirit. How do we walk in the spirit? By practicing the fruits of the Spirit!
As humans, our natural bent it towards self. This morning during the sermon I started thinking about certain things in our church that I would like to be my way. I started thinking about people in the church that I have had a disagreement with. Of course, I generally think that I am the right one.
But, what does this division in the church do? (and by church I do not just mean my church in east TN, I mean the body of Christ, the entire church.) Our pastor shared 3 impacts that our division as believers has on the outside wordd.
1. Christ and the cross are dishonored.
2. Christian compassion is diminished.
3. Christian witness is diminished.
So, as I’m praying for more compassion in my life, not only do I need to look at the people in my life who have hurt me in the past. (this is the reason I started feeling convicted about compassion.) But I also need to ask the Lord to search my heart and show me of any ways that I am contributing to division in the church. I need to be aware that when I feel like my way is more important than God’s way (even if I don’t know for certain what God’s will is at that exact moment, I know His will is not for division!), I am diminishing the compassion in my heart…and I am dishonoring Christ. I hate to think that I have ever done that, but I know I have!
“Therefore, as chosen children of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another…” Col. 3:12