“Who ate my bagel?” inquires son #2 angrily and then proceeds to accuse his brother of devouring what was left on the plate while son #2 briefly slipped away to use the bathroom. Brother, being wrongfully accused, punches son #2 in the lip.
Screaming ensues. Peeved mom intervenes.
Son #1 informs his sister loudly, “THAT’S NOT YOURS! I GOT IT FOR CHRISTMAS. GIVE IT BACK NOW!!!” Sister pulls the Lego closer to herself, turning slightly away from her irritated brother.
“May I play with it for just a few minutes?” she respectfully pleads.
“You may play with it as long as I’m right here with you. But when I’m ready to go outside, you have to put it back in its place,” consents son #1 kindly.
After watching the play-by-play closely, mom resumes washing the dishes, joyful that her children fought to work it out on their own.
I trust that any parent reading this can smile and nod, recognizing the two scenes I described. And, I would also bet that any parent would much prefer the latter scene over the first. Sibling harmony does indeed equate parental bliss.
This crossed my mind today around 11 a.m. when I realized my children had gone nearly all morning playing peaceably side-by-side, working together toward a common goal: building a super-duper, cool, train track.
Recently, the Lord quickened to my mind how, like me, He delights when His kids live their lives peaceably side-by-side, working together toward a common goal, that of telling the world of His goodness and mercy toward sinners. He delights not just because our efforts toward accomplishing His purposes are much more effective, but because we, His children, are enjoying a part of the abundant life He died to give us.
Psalm 133:1 says, “Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.”
But, living at peace with siblings is not always easy, is it? Both biological and spiritual siblings can really work on our nerves at times. We disagree. We don’t always view life or circumstances from the same perspective. We offend and are offended. To live at peace with one another as God calls us requires concerted effort at times. It requires humility and most of all, it requires love.
I tell my children often regarding living with their siblings, “It’s a fight either way … we’re either fighting against one another for our own selfish ends or with each other for the sake of unity and peace.”
Unity and sibling harmony within the Body of Christ is a fight. And, we are wise to prepare for these skirmishes by equipping ourselves with the armor of the Word:
“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11)
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
“Love covers a multitude of sin.” (1 Peter 4:8)
Our unity as Christian brothers and sisters not only pleases our Heavenly Father; it speaks volumes to a watching, lost world, looking for ways out of conflict, looking for peace. As believers, we know peace with God so that we can also know peace with others. He fought His flesh so that we can fight ours. He defeated the dominion of darkness so that we can come alongside each other and defeat the real enemies, that of the world, our flesh and the devil, not each other.
We do well to be provoked by the following thoughts of theologian and author, Wayne Grudem:
Where love abounds in a fellowship of Christians, many small offenses, and even some large ones, are readily overlooked and forgotten. But where love is lacking, every word is viewed with suspicion, every action is liable to misunderstanding, and conflicts abound- to Satan’s perverse delight.
Will you fight with me for unity and peace with your Christian brothers and sisters? Will you fight to overlook offenses, to love earnestly, to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things? It hurts to do this. Sometimes, it hurts a lot. And the only way we can do this ongoing, one offense after another, is to look to Jesus, the One who absorbed every offense without retaliation or threats, but instead entrusted Himself to Him Who judges justly.
Look to Jesus and love.
Look to Jesus and live in unity with your Christian siblings.
Look to Jesus and know peace.