|Posted on September 25, 2014 at 8:00 AM|
Ohana means Family
When reading the past few chapters of 1 Corinthians, there have been so many different topics introduced. There is so much meat here in this book, it's amazing. There are verses that sermon series could be written for, much less one little blog post by yours truly.
So, I'm going to go with something general that I feel like includes what was spoken of in a few of the chapters from the last couple days and then try to get specific.
Let's talk about Family.
I don't mean the family that you live with or were naturally born into. I'm talking about the family that you were supernaturally born into when you became a Christian.
See, the difference between Christianity and any other faith system is relationship; a familial relationship between us and God.
If we rewind back to Eden, we see that Adam and Eve did have a relationship with Him but then they ruined it by choosing to sin. When sin came in, it separated us from God. Fast forward to Jesus coming into the picture, living a perfect life, dying for us, then coming back to life thus defeating sin and death. With sin's power gone, we can finally get back to what we were made to be in the first place. Sin can no longer get in the way of us having a relationship with God - unless we let it. That's the clincher: free will. God will never force us into relationship with Him, He wants each of us to choose.
And unfortunately, some choose sin over God; eternal death over eternal life. Gosh, that hurts my heart. But, there are millions of people all around the globe who have chosen Him; who have admitted their sin, believed in Him + what He did and have asked Him into their hearts and their lives. Hallelujah! People are getting saved every day and that's amazing because that means that more and more people are joining the family.
When we come to Him, we die to sin and are raised in life with Christ, we are born again and then immediately adopted into the family of Christ.
Romans 6:8-11 NLT
8 And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. 9 We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. 10 When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 1:4-5 NLT
4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
We become a part of something much greater than anything we can imagine; the body of the Church with Christ as the head. We are one, we are a unit, we are a legitimate family. Not a family that divides itself when things get rough. Not a family where members abuse each other verbally, physically and emotionally. Not a family akin to what we have in the world today.
We are a family that loves each other and can actually genuinely do so because the Author of Love keeps us together. We are a family bound together by the blood spilled for our salvation.
As members of this family, we have three main responsibilities:
1) love God 2) love each other and 3) love those outside the family
Today, I want to break down what that second responsibility means; what does loving each other look like?
1. Praying for each other.
As Christians, prayer is an essential part of our lives. It's one of the ways that we communicate with God and thus grow in our personal relationship with Him. However, prayer is not just limited to being all about us - we should be thinking about others when praying as well.
Ephesians 6:18 NLT
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.[a]
Is there anything that we know a brother or sister is struggling with? Pray for them. Have they not been to church in a while? Pray for them. Did they just randomly pop into your mind? Pray for them. We should take as many opportunities as possible to pray for the other members of our family. Why? What is so important about that?
Two words: spiritual warfare.
Ephesians 6:10-12 NLT
10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we[a] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
The enemy of our souls is raging war against our family. Are we going to behave like cowards and hide away until all the fighting is done? No, because we know who wins at the end. We can walk in confidence on the battlefield knowing what the outcome is going to be. This is how we fight in faith. And we fight in faith through prayer.
James 5:16 NLT
16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
Prayer is one of the ways that we can stand firm against the enemy and help the people on our side stand firm as well. It is power and always comes through. I don't think this can be stressed enough. PRAY! There’s a very popular line: "Pray (pray) to get you through the day". Let us pray to get someone else through their day as well.
2. Encouraging each other.
Genesis 1:3 NLT
3 Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
God spoke light into existence. Let that sink in. From the very beginning of time we were shown the importance of words. In James, there is a section of scripture dedicated to the use of our tongue. Here’s a snippet of that:
James 3:7-8 NLT
7 People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.
In Proverbs, written by Solomon (the wisest man to have ever lived), there are several verses that speak about how we use our words. Here are a couple:
Proverbs 15:1 NLT
A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.
Proverbs 18:21 NLT
The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.
Are we getting the fact that the words that we say are über important? There is a lot of power in our words; power to do harm or power to do good. As Christians, we need to follow our Father's example and speak life wherever we go. We need to be people who build each other up with our words; who are kind and loving with them.
It makes me so sad when I hear things like: "the church is full of gossips" or "you can't trust church people (because they will spread your business everywhere)". It makes me angry when I see Christians being rude to each other. I don't mean teasing each other sarcastically or joking with one another, mind you. I mean Christians brothers and sisters tearing each other because of drama or etcetera. It makes me wonder how we can truly be a family when there seems to be a lot of negative words said to people or about people.
This is not encouraging each other in The Lord, this is not being a family. This is dividing the church and driving people out of it. That shouldn't be happening, guys. Yes, our flesh's instinct is to do all the above and worse, but that does not mean that we aren't able to be better than that. We can be through God living in us. His strength is in us therefore we are able to fight and His love is in us helping us to love people with our words through encouragement. This is what we're supposed to do guys, so let's be intentional about it.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT
So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
Hebrews 10:25 NLT
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Proverbs 15:23 NLT
Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!
3. Sharpening each other.
Proverbs 27:17 NLT
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.
What does that mean? Well, when I read that verse I think of my father sharpening his knives. He would strike them against each other and cause a bunch of noise when doing so. The sound used to really get on my nerves, eh? I remember one day asking him why he had to do it (because I'd just wanted him to stop) and he told me that it makes the knives more effective. By striking them against each other again and again, they were sharpened and were able to cut things more cleanly and quickly. Resigned to the fact that he indeed have a good reason for the irritating noise, I nodded my head at his answer and then went to watch TV.
That's what we need to be doing with our brothers and sisters. We need to help each other grow and be more effective in each other's faith. This is done by intentionally coming together to share with each other and learn from one another. This is achieved by spending time with Christian friends in and outside the church building and through discipleship/mentorship. When we make quality time with other believers to focus on Him, amazing things happen. We grow, we learn and we become a close and tight-knit family.
Now the coming together of my dad's knives? It sounded mighty painful. Honestly, if knives could speak I feel like they'd be screaming in pain during their sharpening time. Sometimes, it's like that for us. We might be challenged to go deeper for Him and sacrifice something in our lives. Sometimes, we might learn something about ourselves that we don't like. Sometimes, we might have to confront our brother or sister with something that they're doing that isn't glorifying to God. Sharpening each other can be painful, hard, and uncomfortable but it is necessary in order for us to help each other grow and be more effective in our faith.
Now, we must remember that this doesn't mean that we only have Christian friends and we only spend time with Christians. That wouldn't be doing Responsibility #3: loving people outside the family. And without #3 we run the risk of just being "Social Christians". I recently learned this term, it refers to Christians who only spend time together because they want relationship with each other. This isn't entirely right because we must not forget that our family is to be ever-growing! How can it grow if we don't interact with others and thus tell them about Him? Aha. It can’t.
So we must be intentional about cultivating relationship with fellow believers without neglecting the non-believers that God has placed in our lives.
4. Not causing one another to stumble.
1 Corinthians 8:9 NLT
9 But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble.
In other words, not leading another believer into sin. When we do that, we cannot call ourselves a family because we are only hurting each other. There are so many ways that this can be done unintentionally but we have to be careful, guys. There are a few practical things I want to put out there for how we behave on a day-to-day basis.
Sisters: Let's not make it any harder on our brothers to stay pure. Yes, they have a responsibility to keep their sights on Christ in us and not us ourselves, but we can either help them in this or hurt them by the way we choose to dress. I'm not saying there's a formula for how to dress modestly and nicely as a Christian girl and I'm not going to push my style on anyone because we all have different styles. It's a part of how unique we all are. I'm just going to share what I try to do: let the Holy Spirit lead you.
It may sound weird asking God to tell you what to wear but you can try on clothes and know inside that this is accentuating something a little too much and choose to wear something else. When you go to stores and pick up clothes, imagine yourself in them (or try them on) and see whether this is something that would honour God. One way I know when something is approved is a peace I get inside. When I probably shouldn't wear something I feel uncomfortable or fidgety or am constantly adjusting it. Just, let Him lead you.
Brothers: We sisters can read into something a million times more than it really is. Now, it is our responsibility to guard ourselves and just relax but you guys can help us in that. Actually, you need to help us in that. As men, you are called to be protectors and that also means helping us protect our hearts. How? By being chivalrous and kind and Christ-like but not flirty. Treat us like friends, like treasured sisters and then there should (hopefully) be no issues.
I know, this sounds like a bit much but as Paul said:
1 Corinthians 7:35 NLT
35 I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.
There is another way that we can make a fellow believer stumble:
1 Corinthians 8:12 NLT
12 And when you sin against other believers[a] by encouraging them to do something they believe is wrong, you are sinning against Christ.
We should never hear about peer pressure in the church. No ifs, ands or buts. I don't even think I need to say anything on this. Legit, it's that simple. The bottom line is, we cannot lead another into sin and then call that person family. We cannot hurt each other and say we love them. When we do that, we sin against Him and that's serious.
Alrighty, so those are just four big ways that I think we can truly be a family to each other. Are we perfect? No. Will we mess up? Yes. Should those facts stop us? Not all :).
He who is able to move mountains lives in us and when we trust Him and ask Him to help us live the way we should, He lives through us.
As said before, the Christian life is a race but we need to remember that we're not racing against each other. There's no competition to see who is going to get to the finish line the fastest. It's a race we run beside each other all with the same goal of being with Him once we get to the finish line. We should want everyone to reach there and help with that in any way we can.
It was said in the movie Lilo and Stitch and it is relevant and significant to the body of Christ: Ohana means family and family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.