Jump Start # 3459
1 Peter 3:8 “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted and humble in spirit.”
Recently I have heard of three or four different congregations having serious internal problems. Some left and formed a new congregation. Hurt feelings. Things said. Misunderstandings. Promises broken. Trust shattered. Hope dashed. And, a conclusion reached that we can no longer continue on with these people. It’s time to leave.
Leaving a congregation isn’t always bad. It’s a hard decision. People often do not understand. If remaining means I cannot worship well, my family is affected, and resentment and bitterness rises up towards some, especially the leaders, then one needs to leave. There are situations when the congregation has taken a turn for the worse. There are times when unbiblical decisions have been made. Then one must consider, do I stay or do I go? Some leave much too soon. Some leave every time they find something that they disagree with. They jump from one place to another, back and forth like a little rabbit. It’s not good for the family, their influence or any good that they hope to accomplish. Others stay to long. The pressures, stress and fighting intensifies and often their children become the victims. As the kids grow up and move out, they want nothing to do with what they have witnessed.
Interestingly, through all the problem churches we read about in the N.T., and there are several, from the Corinthian mess, to lukewarm Laodicea, judgmental Romans, to the dead Sardis, leaving and starting another congregation is never given as a solution or even an option.
Our verse today lays the foundation necessary to have a fellowship. Five key expressions:
Harmonious: get along with one another. Blended voices make a harmony. Inside a piano, each key pressed brings a hammer to strike the string. That makes a note. What is interesting is that the string is actually three strings. When a piano is in tune, you hear one note. It’s like the one mind, the one voice, the one purpose that the N.T. speaks about.
Sympathetic: care. You care for others. You let them know you care. You think about them. You pray about them. You do things for them. Sympathy can be described as feeling what you are going through in my heart.
Brotherly: connected. We are brothers. We are family. We are related. Family means something. Family supports one another. Family defends each other.
Kindhearted: compassionate. The difference between sympathy and kindhearted is that sympathy is what you feel, kindhearted is what you do. One leads to the other. Kindness in your words. Kindness in your actions. Doing good because you care.
Humble in spirit: crucify self. Put others first. Stop talking about yourself. Stop always thinking about yourself. Why should I, do I have to, are not the words from a humble heart. Put others in the spotlight. Work together. Be a team player.
Not only is this a great passage for us, but it was first demonstrated through Jesus in the choosing of the apostles. What a mixed group that was. Some were physical brothers, and others were not. Most were from Galilee, one was not. There were strong ideological differences between zealots and tax-collectors. There were egos, misunderstandings, judgmental attitudes, and pride in that mixture. Yet as they traveled with Jesus, they saw harmony by the Lord. They saw the Lord caring. They saw the Lord doing good. They saw the humble spirit of Jesus.
As different as the apostles were, Jesus showed them how to be servants, work together, and be humble. And, sometimes that is the very thing that we need today. We get our feelings hurt and all we think about is self. We begin to nurture negative attitudes and start remembering other things that we should have forgiven and let go a long time ago, but we haven’t. We’ve kept those hidden deep within us. And, when the right occasion surfaces, we bring out all those mean and nasty things that were said to us. We remember when we were not invited. We remember being ignored. And, like logs on a fire, those bad memories just fuel more reasons why we don’t like those people and why we need to get away from them.
When Paul wrote that joyous Philippian letter, he named Euodia and Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. I wonder if the Lord was writing a letter to our congregations, would He identify us by name and tell us to get along with each other? For all eternity, Euodia and Syntyche are known as two who weren’t getting along. And, I have been to places and decades and decades later, some are still talking about the trouble, the damage, the heartache, the leaving that some have done. Their names are remembered, and like Euodia and Syntyche, it’s not for a good thing.
Now, we often want to tell someone else, “Did you listen to that,” when maybe it’s me who ought to listen to that. Maybe I need to ask myself, how hard am I trying to be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kind hearted and humble. Maybe, just maybe, I’m the one who is out of tune. Rather than sounding like one note, we sound broken.
The only one who smiles during church problems is the devil. It’s time we took that smile off his face and declared, hard as it is, we will stand united, together as one.