Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Encourage One Another

"Do not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since . . . the Day of the Lord is coming nearer.” Hebrews 10:25

When we enter into a relationship with God, He also calls us into relationship with other Christians as part of a nurturing family. In fact, many scriptures refer to fellow believers as “brothers” and “sisters”.

This week my husband and I are representing our church at a denominational conference of pastors and laity that meets once a year for worship, study, and business. About 1700 people attend.

I love to go—not for the ho-hum business reports, but for the fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ. Many of these people I have not seen since last year at the conference. We always enjoy plenty of conversation during meal times and breaks, catching up on one another’s personal lives and ministries.

Today, however, the business meeting also proved quite interesting. Several of the proposed resolutions that were discussed revolved around controversial subjects like strip mining and healthcare. Delegates verbalized strong opinions and emotions from every corner of the room.

Likewise, a couple of private conversations my husband and I were drawn into touched on sensitive matters, like divorce and safe sanctuary policies—emotion-packed issues.

At times like these how do we respond in a way that pleases God? We can find guidelines in Colossians 3: 12-14: “You are the people of God; he loved you and chose you for his own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you. And to all these qualities add love, which binds all things together in perfect unity.”

I witnessed many aspects of this scripture in action at the conference—colleagues tolerating differences of opinion; opposing comments expressed with kindness; painful news shared with gentleness.

Of course, love and forgiveness still eluded some deeply-wounded souls. And occasionally humility fought and lost to pride and self-importance. But on the whole, this mass gathering of siblings in Christ encouraged one another in love and the result was unity.

©2011 Pamela D. Williams