I’ve heard it said that the most detrimental thing to our Christian witness is when we as a body do not get along with each other. Jesus himself said,
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35)."
Love is to be a distinguishing mark of a true disciple of Christ. As a matter in fact, when John warning the church about false teachers, love was among the “tests” for the false teacher. In addition to confession of Christ as coming in the flesh, he also goes on to say this,
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love (1 John 4:7-8).”
John also uses love as one of the self-tests to see whether we are walking with God.
“Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him (1 John 3:18-19).”
Love is not some sidebar, it is the central command of the Christian faith. When we truly love one another as Christ loved us, that gives legitimacy to our testimony.
But what if we have problems with each other? Does that keep us from reaching out to the lost? Can we really reach out to the lost if there are problems in the body? Should that be a reason not to reach out to the lost?
I’m reminded of churches such as the church in Corinth that was riddled with problems. When you consider all the problems they had, it makes your head swim. Thank God problems we have had have not been anything on the level of what was going on in Corinth. Did their problems excuse them from preaching the Gospel to the lost? Of course not. Paul concludes his letter by reminding them of the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15. Then he tells them this,
“Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor 15:58).”
How encouraging! Paul didn’t excuse their problems. Neither did he tell them to get it near perfect before teaching the lost. He told them not to give up because their toil is not in vain.
God causes the increase. Growth comes in spite of us, and because of God (1 Cor 3:1-9). Let’s never let our imperfections and shortcomings keep us from doing what God calls us to do. Let’s continue to focus on being servants and bearers of good news. When we are idle, problems will start to follow. When we are busy, we grow. Don’t get tired or discouraged!