Wednesday, March 21, 2007

thinking the best of others

Conflicts among God's people are bound to happen. It's one of those realities of living in the already/not yet existence. So we might as well get over the notion that somehow we can get past that. It isn't going to happen.

So what do we do about it? Scripture is loaded with help here, and we can begin with the Lord's Prayer (or, the Our Father Prayer). We're to refuse to judge and condemn others, and we're to forgive each other. So this must begin with us, personally, and out from that become an ongoing practice of community.

Sin does need to be dealt with gently and humbly in community, by those who live by the Spirit. It shouldn't be swept under the rug, or ignored. It needs to be addressed, and when necessary in any case, the work ongoing.

In all of this in our community life as God's people, we need to work at thinking the best of others. For some of us this may not be so hard, at least in reference to most people. When we're around each other very long, we often begin to see the good, the bad and the ugly that exists in each other's lives. We see that our ideal of who the other is, is simply not the entire story. Of course the older we get the more this should not surprise or move us, unless we never look into the mirror of our own lives.

We need to think the best of others. This seems to be in rhyme with the love spelled out for us in 1 Corinthians 13 that is to more and more characterize our lives. And this should be based, not on our confidence in another person so much- at least not as the basis of that confidence- but in our faith in God and his faithfulness and goodness to us in Christ. God is at work; he's on our side. He's there to help us in making us holy and good.

God is bigger than the things we don't like about each other. We should take those to him in prayer. And seek to be sensitive to our own faults and shortcomings.

I feel like I've left plenty unsaid, and that more should be added to this. What would you like to add for us, here? Or any thoughts.

8 comments:

Alan Knox said...

Ted,

We were discussing this last Saturday in the context of living in unity with other believers. How much easier would it be for us to live in unity if we thought the best of others? It is certainly a matter of love. Thank you for this reminder.

-Alan

Ted Gossard said...

Alan, Thanks. Disunity is part of the work of the flesh (Galatians) with dissensions, etc. While the fruit of the Spirit is love, and the other characteristics that go with it. Essential for us in our relationships with one another.

If I'm not thinking well of someone, I need to prayerfully seek to see if I'm really walking in the Spirit.

Dan Brennan said...

Ted,

I think this is really signifcant for moving towards deeper embrace of unity. Too often, we've categorized people with doctrinal or psychological labels that tend to undermine the challenge of thinking best about them.

Ted Gossard said...

Wow, I lost my comment.

Dan, Thanks for the insight. I can see this in our homegroup. There seems to be a strong accepting of each other in general that will not think bad of another. Maybe part of the key here is to think of the opposite which is plenty common, thinking bad of our "neighbor". Instead we need to see them in need of mercy like us all. And being made and/or remade in God's image.

And to slow down and try to connect with them would help.

It is hard when one sees themselves looked down on by another. In that case one then is the victim of another thinking the worst (or not very good) of them.

Rachel Starr Thomson said...

Hi... found you by Web surfing, and from the other comments I get the idea I've stumbled into a small community. I hope you don't mind if I chip in. I've written about this before in Heart to Heart: Meeting With God in the Lord's Prayer, a book I published last year. I'll just quote from it:

"If we will look at all the New Testament instructions in the light of Jesus’ new commandment to “Love one another as I have loved you,” we will find that, as a dear friend recently wrote me, “Love unites everything both in ourselves and in the body of Christ.” Love unites everything; love makes sense of it all. And it is love—true, bloody, Christ-like love—that must come to govern all that we do and all that we are. John tells us that “God is love;” he tells us also that “when he shall appear, we shall be like him.” One day we will be like Christ. We are on that journey now.

"It is Love we are becoming like, and what better way can God have of training us than by opening our lives to people? People, who are so captivating and so frustrating, so stupid and so brilliant, so funny, strange, loving, hateful, vexatious and resplendent. He loved them in the Garden before they rebelled against Him; He has loved them through the tumultuous ages since; He came and laid His life down for them. They are His heart and He will use them to make us like Him."

Thanks for your excellent thoughts.

Ted Gossard said...

Hi Rachel, I do think we have some community here. Great quote; did you write that? I'll have to go to your blog(s) when I have more time.

I especially appreciate the thought of love bringing unity to community as well as to one's own life, in Christ. And really, this is a participation in the community of love found in the Trinity. (I'm reading LeRon Shults's book, "Reforming the Doctrine of God", so I'm thinking along the lines of God being a relational Being.)

Thanks for sharing!

Rachel Starr Thomson said...

I did write it, yes :). Thanks for coming by and commenting on my blog! I really appreciate that you took the time to read various posts and leave me your thoughts. I read some more of your blog today and really enjoyed it; I'll try to comment intelligently tomorrow or Monday. At the moment I'm tired enough that I don't want to be held responsible for anything I say!

In regards to my books, I believe you could order them from most bookstores, in Grand Rapids and elsewhere. Actually getting them on the shelves requires marketing savvy (and a budget) that I don't have at the moment, so they're available chiefly online.

Most of the chapters from "Letters to a Samuel Generation" can be read in their entirety here: http://www.littledozen.com/samgen.html

Ted Gossard said...

Rachel, You're most generous. Thanks much. I look forward to reading them.

Recently I changed my writing style after reading Lukas McKnight on commas (he's a side link and son of Scot). I realized I was comma-ing my sentences to death. And probably too many short, choppy ones. One's never too old to learn.

Your welcome, and I enjoyed reading from your blog and look forward to more (as well as reading from the book online).