Why is it so hard for Christians to be of one mind? Anyone have any theories on that? It’s amazing to me that in a room of 10 Christians, you can have 18 different opinions on how to do something . . . and really you’re supposed to agree on one. Think about that.
Not that it’s any easier for non-Christians to agree, but it just seems to me that people who say they are Christ followers automatically sign up to be contrary. It’s like we all can agree that Jesus died for us, but we can’t agree on how much He loves us.
So what is the image Christians project to others? A super secret club of people who backbite and gossip and can’t get along.
Sorry, folks, but I don’t think that’s right.
The verse for today is 1 Peter 3:8.
8 Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters.[a] Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.
The first thing I noticed about this verse is that it’s addressed to “all Christians.” It’s not just new Christians or Christians who’ve believed for a long time or Christians who’ve been long-time members of the same religious establishment. It’s all Christians.
Be of one mind. The Amplified Version says it, “united in spirit.” If we’re Christians, we need to agree on the things that really matter. We need to agree on what’s written in the Bible. I’ve heard it said that we need to keep the main thing the main thing. What is that? I’m a sinner. You’re a sinner. Christ died for sinners. Nobody’s perfect. Believing in Christ–and Christ alone–is the only way to be saved, to have a one-on-one relationship with God, and to have an eternal future in heaven. The basics of true, biblical Christianity. Believing in Christ — not trusting in works or in a religion or in a man or in a symbol — is the only way to be saved.
If we can’t agree on that, there’s something wrong with someone’s basic doctrine. And that means we need to do some Bible study because the Bible is the standard.
Beyond agreeing with each other, though, we need to sympathize with each other. I tell you what, Christians are the meanest people I know. Sometimes they’re also the most selfish people I know. And I know this . . . because I’m one of them. I get so focused on myself and what I’m doing that I steamroll over people around me who need attention and who need to know I care.
Notice, the verse doesn’t say that we need to fix their problems. Most of the time we can’t do anything anyway. But sympathizing with someone is different than trying to fix them. Dictionary.com defines sympathizing as “sharing a feeling with someone, to feel compassionate sympathy.” And many times that’s all people need. They just need you to take the time out of your busy day to try to share their sorrow or their loneliness or their anger or their frustration, and as a believer in Christ, you need to do this for your brothers and sisters. Don’t try to fix them. Just listen. And pray.
It’s part of loving each other as brothers and sisters. I know most siblings don’t act like they love each other, which is a shame. My brother is my best friend. I’m not being sarcastic. I will tell Andy things I won’t tell anyone else, even my best friend and even my parents (who are also my best friends). We are supposed to love each other as Christians, as fellow followers of Christ who are trying to live the way Jesus did. But Christians fail at this immensely.
If you ask a non-believer if Christians love each other, how many times are they going to say yes? How many instances have Christians given the world that we actually care about each other? In my experience, those instances have been few and far between. I can tell you that the deepest wounds in my heart have come from Bible-believing Christians . . . because Christians know how to hurt each other. We’re family, after all. And family always knows how to hurt each other efficiently. But it shouldn’t be that way. We need to build each other up, not tear each other down.
We need to think about the things we say before we say them. Weigh your words. Words have impact. They have meaning. Be tenderhearted. Let your heard feel what your words will do to someone else before you say them.
And be humble about it. Nobody’s a superstar down here. We’re all made of out mud. We all make mistakes. And we all have learned painful lessons about what pride has done to our lives, but the worst choice in the world is to hide the lessons you’ve learned. We need to help each other. We need to learn from each other.
We are so good at putting people on pedastals. And then our faith is shaken because our hero does something wrong.
What I love about this verse is that Peter wrote it. Peter. The disciple who was loud and impulsive and rough around the edges. And even after he decided to follow Christ, I’m pretty sure he didn’t embody very many of these things. But when he let God change him, God did something awesome with him. Not saying he was perfect then. I’m pretty sure he was still rude and abrasive at times.
But Peter speaks from experience here. He knew what worked and what didn’t. And He knew (because God told him) that if Christians were going to survive this crazy, broken, messed up world, we needed to trust God, yes; but we also needed each other.