By Mark Bowman Sr.
Philippians 2:3 (NKJV) Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
Christianity is defined by oneness. One body, One Spirit, One hope, One Lord, One faith, and One baptism. Christianity is also defined by the love we have for one another, as Jesus states in John 13:34-35, A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. We are a body, a community, a family. And therein lays the big obstacle to oneness. How do we learn to get along with each other and maintain the unity which is from God?
Forbearance (Bearing with); Translated from the Greek word “anechomai”. It literally means "to hold oneself up against" or "put up with"; other words are endure, suffer, and tolerate. Shouldn’t we show tolerance to each other? Let’s face it. Sometimes people do things that irritate us or make us feel uncomfortable, even to the point of being painful. The fact is there will be times when someone gets on my nerves, but – as unthinkable as this may be – I just might get on someone else’s nerves. Forbearance is one of those virtues that is truly “more blessed to give than to receive.” It is noble to be forbearing, to tolerate someone. We don’t like to think of it in terms of receiving forbearance, that someone has to tolerate me. Now I’m not talking about when a person is in sin or doing something abusive or degrading to another. I am talking about that there are those who don’t have the same views as another. That doesn’t make them wrong or right. They just view things differently. Some differences are about food, dress, style of music, instruments (organ, guitar, or even the dreaded drum), or sanctuary etiquette.
Forbearance is possible for those who humble themselves before God thru the Holy Spirit. Being humble and tolerating others is sometimes a struggle for me and I pray for Gods guidance in this. A humble person recognizes that just because other people have different personalities, talents, or doesn’t see things in the same way as he/she does, just make them different. Rather than resent those differences and clash, no matter how hard it is, we should show mercy and forgiveness.
By placing great value on others and their differences, we can then achieve far more with them than we would on our own. That is part of Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 12:12-26,
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
We should have Love and Forgiveness towards each other. We are all different parts of the body, because that is how God made us, and if we treat each other like we want to be treated; there will be unity in our church.