If we're upset by someone's actions, do we try to correct them or do we look the other way? What if they're stubborn and don't want to change? Are we surprised? Do we forgive them? What if they hurt us? Do we then avoid them?
God made us to live together, to live in harmony with each other, to serve and sacrifice for the health and well-being of each other. We're made for communion. We're like body parts that make up a body, made to interact and cooperate for the good of the whole. When we hurt one part, we injure the whole body. When we harm one person, the health and well-being of the whole community are affected.
As the philosopher, Marcus Aurelius, wrote, “What injures the hive, injures the bee."
When we hurt each other, we hurt everyone, and when we hurt everyone, we hurt ourselves. So we mustn't avoid people who upset and hurt us. Instead, we must think about our own faults first. Is what was said truly insulting, or did we choose to be upset? Were we actually hurt, or did we allow ourselves to be harmed?
It's not easy to distinguish between what we choose to allow to be done to us and what we don't have any control over. It’s made even more difficult by the fact that we don't really have any control over what happens around us or to us. All we can control is our reaction to what happens around us and to us.
But, that's not easy. Taking a good, hard look at ourselves, holding ourselves accountable for our choices, and owning up to our faults isn't easy. Add to this the fact that at present, in the western world, nobody is responsible and everyone is to blame. Everyone is a victim. Everyone is offended by something. Whatever is evil, wrong, or corrupt is someone else's fault. Whatever disappoints, and whoever distresses us, is to blame. It can't possibly be that we choose to be disappointed. Or, maybe, “What injures the hive, injures the bee."
How much worse is it then when the hive is the Church, and the bees are our brothers and sisters in Christ? What will we do when another Christian upsets or hurts us? Will we fly away, and maybe find another hive? Somewhere where the honey of God's grace is sweeter? Or will we judge ourselves? Will we stay and encourage each other in the name of Jesus to excel in living a God-pleasing life even more than we already do? (1 Thessalonians 4:1).
Each of us carries our own drama with us wherever we go. We have our opinions and prejudices. We prefer one person over another. We have our likes and dislikes, obsessions and addictions. We allow ourselves to be distracted by what other people do and how it affects us.
We choose to feel certain emotions, but we don't want to admit it's a poor choice. We choose to react in specific ways to what's happening around us and to us, but we'd rather blame others. We're encouraged to gossip under the cover of "concern" for each other. We think the worst about peoples' motives and intent while hiding behind the pretense of standing on the moral high ground. We avoid those who upset and hurt us with the self-justifying declaration that, "We deserve better."
It's easy to become a victim. It's even easier to judge others in order to avoid judging ourselves. But, what about encouraging each other in the Gospel? What about urging our brothers and sisters in Christ (especially the littlest ones) to walk in our baptisms, come to the Lord's Table, and love each other without limits or measures?
What about accepting that every Christian is an instrument of God's grace and mercy in the world? We're a sign from God that He made all people to live together, to live in harmony with each other, to serve and sacrifice for the health and well-being of each other. God made us for communion, to live with each other, but most of all, to live in communion with His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
What other people are doing around us or to us isn't supposed to be the focal point of our lives. What others are doing, right or wrong, isn't where God draws our attention. Fixing each other, judging each other's faults, and avoiding each other isn't why we're called into the Church, the "body of Christ."
We're called to walk in the power of Jesus' death and resurrection. We're preached into the kingdom of heaven. We're baptized into forgiveness, new life, and eternal salvation. At the Lord's Table, we're fed the medicine of immortality.
This is the God-pleasing life, to daily die to sin and rise to a new life in Christ Jesus. But, we're not expected to go it alone. We're the body of Christ. Each of us is a body part that makes up the body of Christ, so that through each of us, the whole Church (and the whole world) may declare the glory of God in Jesus Christ.