“We just don’t have anything in common anymore, Gina…” I was stunned. I stared at the message and tried to process its meaning. We don’t have anything in common? What does she mean? We are both members of the body of Christ, seeking to follow Him, and yet we have nothing in common? As it continued to sink in, I began to feel foolish. I’d been trying to keep in touch with and keep a friendship alive with a person who had come to the conclusion that we had nothing in common. How had I missed this? How could I have been so clueless?
I would send e-mails and facebook messages “just checking in” with little or no response, or I’d find out that she had been in town and hadn’t let me know. Was it something I’d done? I needed to ask. The answer was simply “We just don’t have anything in common….”
As Christian women we can tend to evaluate each other with a critical eye. We have our way of doing things, our set of rules to live by, and what we consider to be “the standard”. We decide what is acceptable and what is not. And we often cut each other off for reasons that, if we really took the time to evaluate, are not legitimate biblical reasons.
When I finally found out the truth about why this friend didn’t want to keep in touch with me anymore, my mind filled with questions. What was it that made me unacceptable? Was it the music we listen to? The way I dress? Was it something about my kids? That my daughter went to a college where the young people didn’t dress and act like she thinks they should? That my daughter liked trendy (modest!) clothing? Was my son too silly? Did I laugh too loud? Did I have people visit my home who weren’t acceptable?
What was I doing that had been labeled unacceptable?
This wasn’t the first time this had happened with Christian women, even though I also was a Christian. I had officially been labeled “nothing in common” by several women over the years. Over time God has helped me to see that it was more important for me to follow Him and allow myself and my children to be who HE wanted them to be, and live the life He had called us to live, even if it meant we didn’t fit the mold of what others deemed acceptable. Now that my children are grown I am so thankful that I didn’t try to fit in. But any time you are told you don’t fit – that you “have nothing in common” – it is hurtful. This experience produced good fruit, causing me to focus more on my family, my God, and the ministry God had called us to.
But it also caused me to keep my peers at arms length.
What standards are you holding up as a measuring stick when evaluating other women? What makes one woman acceptable and one woman not acceptable? Shouldn’t women who claim to be a part of the body of Christ somehow be able to focus on the most important things that they have in common rather than the things that shouldn’t make much of a difference?
For some reason our ability to support, protect and fight for each other as women of God is not always our first instinct. In our attempt to do things “right” we often end up cutting off sisters whom we really should be seeking to encourage, all because in some small way we decide they don’t measure up.
According to God’s Word there are only a few situations where we are told we should cut off fellowship with another believer. They are:
- If a person is involved in unrepentant, habitual sin.
- If a person is in rebellion against God.
- If a person is contentious (tending to argument or strife; quarrelsome, causing, involving, or characterized by argument or controversy) (1 Cor. 5:11, 2 Thess. 3:6, Titus 3:10)
Apart from these 3 sceneros, we are called to relate to others as Jesus did. We should strive to persevere with others in the same way God perseveres with us every day. Cutting off another person is not in the heart of God and I don’t believe it should be in our hearts either. We must learn the ways in which we are called to persevere with each other.
25 Ways We Can Persevere With Others
- Bless even when persecuted, patiently endure, answer softly (I Cor. 4:12,13).
- Pursue Peace (I Peter 3:11).
- Overlook an offense (Prov. 19:11).
- Be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving, as Christ is with you (Eph. 4:3).
- Show mercy (Matt. 5:7).
- Be known by your forbearing spirit (Phil. 4:5).
- Love and pray for each other – even your enemies (Matt. 5:43-44).
- Love your neighbor as you love yourself (Matt. 19:19).
- Continually forgive (Matt. 6:15).
- Provide for needs. (Prov.25:21,22)
- Love each other and overlook transgressions (Prov. 10:12).
- Forgive each other and let it go! (Matt. 18:21-22)
- Love each other as God has loved us (I John 4:11).
- Be sympathetic, loving, compassionate (I Peter. 3:8).
- Assist the weak, and give (Acts. 20:35).
- Admonish, encourage, support, be patient (I Thess. 5:14).
- Bear each others burdens (Gal. 6:2).
- Bear with the failings and frailties of the weak (Rom. 15:1,2).
- Serve the needy without expectations (Prov. 31:20).
- Show deference to others (I Cor. 27).
- Endure long, be patient, do not insist on your own rights (I Cor. 13:2).
- Regard others as more important than yourself (Phil. 1:3).
- Comfort each other as God comforts us (2 Cor. 1:3-5).
- Show love in action (deed), not just in theory or in speech (I Jn. 3:17-18).
- Give precedence to one another (Romans 12:10).
It is important to remember that everyone is in a process of growth and learning. If we persevere with others for the long haul, we will have the joy of seeing each other grow, mature, and change. We might even have the opportunity to learn from each other and be challenged about an issue in which we currently don’t agree.
But there is an even more important reason why we need to view each other through a Biblical lens.
“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.” John 13:34,35
We are commanded to show the world that we are disciples of Christ by loving one another. It’s one of the ways we can be a light to this dark world. When we live life with and care for one another, we are being a light to the world.
How will you love your sisters and be a light today?