Wish Some People Came With A Mute Button?
The ability to travel all over the world by airplane makes our lives easier in countless ways. Perhaps the most obvious perk of air travel is that it greatly reduces the amount of time it takes to arrive at your destination. On the other hand, even those short trip times seem like an eternity if you’ve ever found yourself stuck next to annoying passengers the entire flight. This is especially true in regards to parents who allow their unruly children to throw temper tantrums that disturb everyone nearby. If you’ve ever found yourself in this situation, the solution may not be too far off in the future. Some major airlines recently issued a survey in which 70% of frequent flyers responded that they would pay extra to install “family-only” sections on flights. This is because most flyers, “want to sit as far away as possible from children,” (NYDailyNews.com).
Like an airline flight, the body of Christ is made up of a whole bunch of people. What’s the most frustrating thing about people? Well…they’re people! Let’s face reality. Sometimes within the church you’re going to have brothers and sisters in Christ who will get on your nerves. Maybe it’s a personality conflict, or perhaps it’s a misunderstanding, but as we work side by side for Christ there will inevitably be brethren who rub us the wrong way. Often when this happens we do exactly what those airline passengers wanted, and completely isolate those persons who annoy us. After all, God can’t expect us to improve our relationships with brethren we can’t stand…can He?
After reminding the Ephesians about all that God did for them Paul wrote, “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” (Eph. 4:1-3 emph. added). The phrase, “showing tolerance for one another,” literally means that you put up with Christians who get on your nerves. God recognizes that there will be personality conflicts within the church, but that is no excuse not to treat those brethren with the greatest love as fellow heirs of God’s grace.
Jesus practiced this same principle with His disciples. Just think about it. Every day for 3 ½ years He had to listen to them argue, complain, disbelieve in Him, and they repeatedly failed to grasp His teachings. On one occasion, Jesus vented His frustration with their “littleness of faith” when He exclaimed, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? (Mt. 17:17 emph. added). This is the exact same phrase that Paul commands us to tolerate our brethren with in Ephesians 4:2.
How often do we get on God’s nerves with our attitudes, our actions, and our doubts? Yet, with all of our annoying traits He is patient with each of us, He loves each of us, and He wants to help us improve every day. Is there any reason we should treat any one of our brethren differently than God deals with us? It will certainly take extra effort on our part to get along with those who are hard to get along with. Still, where would we be if God didn’t make the effort to reach out to us despite all of our flaws?