Orthodoxy of Community
"One cannot explain the explosive dynamite, the dunamis, of the early church apart from the fact that they practiced two things simultaneously: orthodoxy of doctrine and orthodoxy of community in the midst of the visible church, a community which the world can see. By the grace of God, therefore, the church must be known simultaneously for its purity of doctrine and the reality of its community." Francis Schaeffer Francis Schaeffer touches on a very important point with this statement, taken from his book, The Church Before the Watching World. As importan as sound doctrine is, we must recognize that our witness before the world does not stand on doctrine alone. The importance of our relationships within the covenant community is equally important. Jesus said, "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another" (John 13:35). The witness of the Church has often been marred by the lack of love we show to one another. At times in our quest to be doctrinally sound, and unwavering in our defense of the truth, you have damaged one another. Other times simply out of our self-centeredness we have hurt others and may not even be aware of it. The reality is oftentimes, we have not walked out relational what it means to be part of Christ's covenant family.
A few years ago a weekly class on "Handling Conflicts" to a group of inmates in a federal prison. The book we used was entitled, The Peacemaker by Ken Sande. This book challenges us with the importance of dealing with our relational conflicts and the importance that the Bible places on reconciliation. I would commend this book to you.
Let me encourage you today to seek reconciliation to those members of God's family that you may be estranged from. It takes forgiveness, humility, graciousness, patience, and the extension of mercy to restore relationships that have been broken. May God grant all of us the grace to walk in the "orthodox of community."