Mending the Body of Christ Behind Prison Walls
The Healing of the Heart
One purpose of God's Word is to heal our hearts. Our thoughts are not God's thoughts, and our ways are not His ways. His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8,9). This is why Jesus came in the flesh to show us the thoughts and ways of our heavenly Father so that we could be healed by His ministry of love. His thoughts towards us are ". . . thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11).
Our heart is the inner man. That part of us that can only be seen by the words and actions of the outer man. Jesus said, "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man, for out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man..." (Matthew 15:18-20a). Is there any doubt where the problem lies?
The heart of the Body of Christ must be healed before the world can see that our Father sent Jesus to save them from their destruction. Jesus prayed to our Father: "...that they may be one in US, that the world may believe that You sent Me... that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me" (John 17:21,23). Jesus is crying out for all believers to be healed, so the reflection of His face can be seen on His Body by the unbelievers.
Our purpose is to glorify our heavenly Father as the Body of Christ. This is impossible to do when our hearts are filled with prejudice against one another. It could be that we embrace doctrinal differences, instead of focusing only on the essentials of our faith. We will be tempted to agree with the judgments heard from the mouths and seen upon the faces of other members of a congregation trying to bring us into a bond of iniquity. Often conditions are placed on members of a congregation before loving them. The mind of Christ takes a stand for unconditional love. That is divine love [Greek: agape], the bond of perfection (Colossians 3:14).
The members of the Body of Christ are to be willing to develop a relationship with the other members, to function together under the headship of Christ as a "spiritual joint". 1The power is in the joint to unify and edify the Body of Christ in love. The ligaments or bands hold the joints in place, even under intense pressure. The Apostle Paul teaches:"From whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments" (Colossians 2:19a). When members of the Body of Christ experiences schisms where the joint begins to pop out of place in their relationships, the bond [ligament] of perfection [divine love] will hold the joint in place (Colossians 3:14). On the other hand, if the bond of perfection is missing, the bond of iniquity will allow disease to enter the Body of Christ as brothers argue and emphasize the problem, leading to separation.
The conclusion is that it is impossible to truly love someone if we do not know that God loves us. I hear members say often, "I know God loves me!" To the contrary, if we have prejudice in our hearts, we are left with only one conclusion, that we do not know God's love: "If someone says, 'I love God, ' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?" (1 John 4:20).
The response is often, "I don't hate my brother!" I respond, "I know, but you are not loving your brother unconditionally either." By this time, the conversation is going in circles, because it is evident that his conditions for loving is hindering the flow of God's unconditional love. Clearly, his fear, prejudice and insecurity must be healed by experiencing God's love, before he can be used to demonstrate to the world that our heavenly Father sent Jesus for their sins.
The problem is the heart of the Body of Christ needs mending so that our light can "...shine before men, that they [the unbeliever] may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). We are born of God, but we are not overcoming the world, the flesh and the devil. The Apostle John exclaims: "For whatever is born of God[love] overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world -- our faith" (1 John 5:4).
The solution is to settle down and make ourselves subservient to the Head, being spiritually minded as "spiritual joints and ligaments", "...holding fast to the Head... grows with the increase that is from God [love]" (Colossians 2:19b). We are always growing in love and in "... the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). It could be that we need to examine ourselves as to whether we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).
As we grow in Christ, we begin to "...seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God" (Colossians 3:1,2). We see ourselves sitting with Christ beside our heavenly Father. We take on a whole new identity in Christ, putting off the old man and putting on the new man of divine love. We let the peace of God rule our heart, the word of Christ dwelling in our heart and giving thanks to God (Colossians 3:5-17).
1 The Headship and the Body, Pastor Bob Hoekstra, Living in Christ Ministries