We are all part of one another....
You know how you read through scripture, noticing some truths here and there, and all of a sudden something you have read a gillion times just sticks out to you this time? I have these moments once in a while, too. They are like the Holy Spirit says "here's something you might want to grab hold of today" and the words just seem to be the ones I pay attention to in a new way. I love the Pauline epistles, so I "frequent" them often. They are probably some of my "favorite" parts of the Word. I think I connect with David in the Old Testament because he struggled with "real stuff" and he messed up, but he always came back to God in repentance, looking for restoration, and finding more than enough grace to enter into God's presence each time. I connect with the Apostle Paul because he was kind of a "know it all" Pharisee who needed to be "cut down" a few notches in order to see truth as God would have him see it. There have been times when I counted on what I "knew" because I had "studied", believing somehow that made me "okay" with God, instead of leaning into the relationship God desired with me and trusting in his grace, not my own merit or good works. Regardless of who we "connect" with in scripture, one thing is true - we are all part of one another. None of us is without importance in God's family - none of is of more importance than the other. We ALL matter. We ALL belong.
Belonging to means to be part of - to be adjunct to the make up of the whole. Without that part, the object in question is "less than whole". None of us is without need of the other. Just as reliant as we are on plants to produce oxygen into the atmosphere, we are reliant upon one another for the "richness" of growth which takes place in our lives. I think this is why Paul takes a moment to really call us out on our "behavior" in the family of God. He tells us to be truthful with one another - not because we need to point out each other's faults, but because we cannot truly see ourselves as we are. We need the reflection of our behavior through the eyes of another. My pastor puts it this way: The eye cannot see the eye. In other words, I can see WITH the eye, but the eye cannot look back into itself to see itself. We often cannot see our own behavior as it is seen by others - we need their sight, not just our own "insight".
Bad behavior is sometimes covered up under the guise of "it was a rough day", or "you deserved that". We excuse it because we felt justified to some extent because of the pressures of the day, or the bad behavior of another. If we examine the impact of our behavior in a different light, we might just be convicted to deal with our behavior a little quicker. We are all PART of one another. We aren't just "us" existing as separate from one another - our lives "fit" together. As such, when the wrong behavior is exhibited, it is like trying to make a connection of a bunch of puzzle pieces when the one piece we are trying to connect to "sort of fits", but not really. Paul is telling us to not tolerate that behavior - banish it! There is a similar word picture of this concept in the Old Testament. At certain times of the year, the priests would take a goat (referred to as a scapegoat), lay their hands on the goat, ask God to see this goat as "bearing the sins of the people", and then they'd set the goat free to wander further and further from the camp until it was completely gone and out of sight. The idea was one of "banishing sin". It was "expelled" from the camp.
We aren't supposed to tolerate bad behavior because it hurts the whole. This might just mean we need to be honest with each other in a kind way and help each other see what we cannot see in ourselves. If I am part of something, I usually exhibit a little more "carefulness" with that thing. If we begin to see ourselves as part of one another, connected by the blood of Jesus into inseparable relationship with one another, we might just begin to exhibit a little more "carefulness" over our relationships with one another. Instead of allowing excuses for bad behavior, we might just ask the other person to help us consider our behavior in the light of how it affects not only the one exhibiting that behavior (you and I), but those who are subject to that behavior. To truly grow together, we need the first recognize we are not just one of many, we are all part of the whole. Just sayin!