Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Friendship of Christ's Body

I have been reading a lot in Romans lately, and there is one point made by Paul that I have overlooked countless times. In Romans, Paul enthusiastically asserts that both the Jews and the Gentiles are now God's people. We are ALL saved by faith in Jesus Christ, who died for us all. When Paul proclaims this truth, the Jews seem upset. Like the good brother who stayed with the father in the story of the Prodigal Son, the Jews seem to be screaming, "but we are Your people, chosen by You! Aren't we special anymore? Don't you still love us, Your chosen people?" And to this outcry, Paul declares again the Truth of God that all men fall short of God's glory and are saved by grace through faith in Christ. And while we can all likely see how the Jews aren't responding appropraitely to God's grace and goodness, I can also identify with the Jews. Growing up in a Christian household as a pretty good kid who grew into a pretty good church-going, rule-following adult, I have felt that sense of pride and jealousy and fear of being forgotten by the new believers. If I have walked with God so long and so faithfully, why do those who come to know Him later and for a shorter period of time seem so much more powerfully connected to Him, so much more exciting in their devotion to Him? Why do they suddenly get to reap the benefits of salvation? These are questions I am ashamed to admit I have asked, but if I am to be truly honest, I have to admit I am the same as those Jews who were questioning God's love for them because of His love for the Gentiles. And these are questions I have struggled with for years, burning to become more passionate, more life-changingly engaged in my relationship with Christ. And so, in the end, those new believers whom I have envied have spurred me on and helped me also to grow. And this is when a realization hit me: I may have, by living for God, helped to bring these new believers into the body of Christ. Wow! It's all connected and so astoundingly beautiful that when I finally captured this truth, I couldn't stop thinking about it! And God, showing His amazing love for me, then introduced me to more discourse on the subject in C.S. Lewis's The Four Loves. In the chapter on friendship, Lewis describes how friendship is the only love that does not discriminate or deplete with increasing numbers. The more friends added to a group, the more interaction within the group, and suddenly, certain traits and gifts of one member are brought out by some new member, making the group even better as a whole!! And this is how I see our relationship with God. The more members to join the body of Christ, the more we can come to know of God. Because while I may understand more fully than you the grace of Christ, you may know more of His majesty or His compassion or His power. We all reveal more of God Himself to one another as we come to know Him more. So the growth of Christ's body is no longer a threat, but a gift, as every new believer brings more to the table about who our incomprehensible, beautiful, and great God is!!


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