Romans 12:5 says we belong to each other. The main relationship we have with each other in the body of believers is in Jesus. He is the One who has brought us together as a family, of which He is the head (Colossians 1:17-18a). It is not our race, status or bloodlines that bring us together — it’s Jesus. So, that’s the first thing to remember: we are family. Everything else flows out of that.
The question is: do we see the church as such? Can we honestly say our actions build up the church — or do they, in fact, tear it down? Let’s look at some exhortations Paul gives the church at Rome.
Use your gifts to build up one another (Romans 12:4-6). When we talk about gifts, we often speak of using them for God. Paul notes that our gifts are given to us for the building up of the church — and we do that by using them to serve each other, and thus, build up the church of God.
Let your love be genuine (Romans 12:9-10). The word for love used here in v.9 is agape (sacrificial) love. Again, the phrase Paul uses in v.10 is ‘brotherly love’. The emphasis is on a familial relationship. Do we really see fellow believers as our parents and siblings? Because when we do, our love will be true.
Contribute to the needs of the saints (Romans 12:13). Many times, our donations are directed to those struggling financially in distant lands. It’s worth remembering that there are people like that in our own churches too. Paul reminds the church at Rome to look out for the saints — and that includes people closer to home too.
Live in harmony (Romans 12:16). The church is made up of people from all walks of life, with all manner of personalities. The church is also the place where none of those things should matter, because our call is to live in harmony, adjusting with each other. That’s what we do within our own families, so what keeps us from doing so for the church?
The real foundation for these things is the mercies of God, to remind ourselves that what we truly deserve is God’s wrath, but God showed us mercy instead. Our call is to extend the grace we’ve received to the body of believers, but when our actions serve to tear down the church instead of build it up, we go against the very character of the One who united us by His blood. We can never hope to be a church family if we don’t see each other as family first.
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