By Jen Akin
The week after Steve and I got married, I returned to work, and he had a few days off before summer school began. I left the apartment that first morning, knowing that he was going to be unpacking the boxes from his move and putting away gifts we had received. That evening, I found every box emptied and every gift unwrapped and placed in piles around our new home. His method of organization was VERY different than mine. I had hoped to relax in a well-organized, neat house after teaching all day. Confusion and tears ensued, with a swift lesson in marital communication and interpretation of expectations!
The good news was (and still is) that Steve and I have committed to love one another as Christ loves us (John 13:34). This commitment calls us to humility, gentleness, patience, and tolerance – doing our best to be unified and live in the Spirit peacefully (Eph. 4:2-3). We’ve learned that we need to be honest with each other, with humility, honoring one another. We’ve learned to discern what mountains are worth climbing , and while we are far from perfect at any of this, the Lord has taught us both what it means to sacrifice our selfish ambition (Ephesians 2:3) for the sake of our life together in Christ.
As the church, we are called to this same posture. Our collective commitment to Christ, and to one another, is easily identified through our love for one another. And while we may have differing opinions related to theology, politics, child rearing, or how ministry should be done, we must choose peace (Romans 12:18) instead of selfish ambition. Like a married couple becomes one (Mark 10:8), believers are one in the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13). And others will notice Him at work in us when we treat each other gently in moments of disagreement or struggle. As we listen to the Spirit, we become more peace-loving, considerate, submissive, merciful, impartial, and sincere (Jas. 3:17).
Thank you for sending your Son as the ultimate example of love and grace to us. May we always seek to love one another in the church the way that you love us. Give us ears to listen, understanding hearts, and Spirit-led wisdom as we live this life together as one body. I pray that we would never sacrifice unity for the sake of self-promotion or ambition, and that you would find us with servant-hearts and humble attitudes. May we reflect your love well to this broken world.
In Jesus’ Name,