January 11, 2014

Love them, not idolize them

Putting other people on a pedestal is sinful, but kicking them off or ignoring people is also a sin. How does God expect us to keep our relationships in balance? For this, He simply says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 19:19)

Today’s devotional thoughts focus on loving other Christians, not idolizing them, but also not trying to live in independent isolation. The Bible talks about believers as being part of the Body of Christ, a helpful analogy to demonstrate what it means to love each other this way . . .

God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. (1 Corinthians 12:24–26)

When my feet hurt, the rest of my body is discomforted. I give as much care to a cut on my little finger as I do to a toothache or a sore back. The idea is that everyone in the Body is important and our attitude should reflect that in our care for one another. No one is unimportant and no one is more important than anyone else.

This is helpful but there is another important detail in these verses. We are each part of Christ’s body. That is, He is the head of the church and as His body, we are joined to Him and united with Him.

And (God) put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:22–23)  . . . . And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. (Colossians 1:18)

I need to think of other Christians this way. The Bible says that we are not to get involved in false worship (idolatry), but hold fast to the Head of the Body which is Jesus Christ, “from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.” (Colossians 2:19)

I can see how this reality is helpful. If I am thinking of other Christians as members of Christ’s Body, as His fullness and as dependent on Him for spiritual growth and well-being, my attitude is different than if I think they are responsible for their own lives. Because Jesus is their source and resource and all that they need, how can I be critical or dissatisfied with anyone? Because Jesus gave them the gifts and abilities that they have, how can I put anyone on a pedestal above others? Each one of us is part of His Body and deeply valuable to Him.

Idolizing a person is okay only if that person is Jesus Christ. It is in Him we live and move and have our being. Because of our mutual dependence on Him, He alone is worthy to receive glory, honor and praise.

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