by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller
Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:25-27 NASB
Every time I walk into the master closet of our new home, I’m reminded of the significance of our individual actions within the Body of Christ and in ministry. On the carpet of that closet is a deep stain the carpet cleaners have attempted to eliminate three times—at the builder’s expense. We know how it got there: when the tile around the toilet had to be replaced, the workers removed the toilet and dragged it onto the closet carpet.
At the final inspection of our new home, the customer service man added to his list, “Clean closet carpet,” so we assumed the stain would soon be gone. But it’s still there and the carpet will most likely have to be replaced—at the builder’s expense.
Many other things have needed to be fixed—many of them needed repairs because the original worker was sloppy or didn’t care about the work he left behind. That reminds me how our negative actions within the Body of Christ can have the same effect.
The Church is full of people who can be sloppy in their interactions with each other. When we make unwise choices, we can be tempted to think, “Well, this won’t matter. Who will care?” Some leave the kind of destruction their wake that will eventually require someone else to deal with the mess. Maybe that’s what the tile worker thought as he dragged the toilet along the carpet: “Someone will just clean it up. No big deal.”
The reality is, every member of the body of Christ is imperfect. We tend to promote our own self-interests rather than look to the interests of others. We are insensitive and cause hurt with careless or thoughtless words. We nurture the offenses we have experienced, allowing bitterness to creep into our hearts rather than extend forgiveness and grace. Perhaps worst of all, we are tempted to judge others when they fail to act in ways that we feel are wise or spiritual.
And so, with so many flawed people meeting in one group, church life can get messy at times. And those mistakes, purposeful or unintended, leave stains behind, all-too-evident reminders written on the hearts of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Even when we may manage to avoid the fruit of our mistakes—like the man who put the toilet on the closet carpet—others will suffer the consequences.
How can we turn our fellowship around to reflect Jesus? How can we stop the hurt and the strife?
It all comes down to one important truth: Jesus sacrificed His life to pay for those very sins. Paul tells us that “Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her…having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25-27 NASB, my emphasis added).
As our builder will have to pay the price for his thoughtless workman, God has already paid an extravagant price for our “repair.” The messy stains on our hearts, created by our sin, have already been washed clean by the blood of the Lamb. We wear the righteousness of Christ, not because of anything we have done, but because of the grace of God. Every one of us is a sinner saved by grace.
Knowing that truth can go a long way to transforming our relationships with each other.
We will allow the abundant love and grace so abundantly given to us to spill over into the lives of others. Knowing how patiently God works with us will inspire us to do the same for them. In response to His love, we will value others because He values them. Out of deep gratitude, we will be motivated to honor and represent Him in our choices.
And those godly actions will transform fellowship within the body as God is glorified.
About the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to encourage women to know who they are in Christ and about the incredible attributes of God. Kathy loves to travel, so she is grateful to have spoken in eight foreign countries as well as traveled to many others. She has spoken at women’s retreats in 35 states. She is the author of 55 books.
Her latest latest release is , Heart Wisdom, a part of her women’s Daughters of the King Bible study series. Heart Wisdom includes ten lessons about the different topics included in The Proverbs, and is perfect for individual or group study. Reach Kathy at www.KathyCollardMiller.com