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The Tie That Binds

John Fawcett wrote the following powerful words in 1782 — "Blest be the tie that binds Our hearts in Christian love; The fellowship of kindred minds Is like to that above" (first verse of Blest Be the Tie). For nearly 230 years that song has taught (in essence) what the New Testament has been teaching for 2,000 years — the God-like love we see expressed in and through Jesus Christ connects and holds people together like nothing else on earth. Members of civic clubs, political parties, athletic teams, soldiers, sailors, Marines, members of the Air Force, firemen and women (and a thousand other groups on earth) have their own particular kind of fellowship based upon shared beliefs and values and purposes, etc. But the ties that bind Christians together are unlike any other fellowship on earth. If we are truly in Christ we share a bond that even the greatest differences and distinctions and diversity cannot break. The apostle Paul told Christians at first century Colosse that in Christ "there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free" (Colossians 2:11a). And what is the tie that binds? "But Christ is all and in all" (vs 11b). When we are in Christ, we are connected to each other, regardless of race, face, space, or place in life! Christ is the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love. Amen!

The hearts of Christ's true disciples are bound in Christian love. But there are strains on the ties that bind. As G. K. Chesterton said, "The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they, are generally the same people." It's not just the Osama Bin Ladens of the world who prove difficult to love. We may struggle to love someone a lot closer to home; maybe even someone in our home! Or two rows behind the pew where I sit to worship on the Lord's Day. How can we live and love and worship with people we strongly disagree or differ with? How can we keep the cords from breaking? Colossians 3:12-14 calls onus as God's people to exercise "tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection." In other words, act like Jesus toward each other! He's the tie that binds! I'll never forget a statement I heard the late Willard Collins (former president of David Lipscomb University) make to the late Jim Bill Mclnteer at a seminar at the Madison church of Christ in Nashville (Saturday, October 18, 1997). From the pulpit, Brother Collins looked at Brother Mclnteer on the front pew and said, "Jim Bill, I'm glad I got mixed up with you." The lives of these two wonderful old soldiers of the cross were tied together for decades by a common faith in and love for Christ and His church. Brother Collin's comment stayed with me. The church of Christ is a mixed up bunch! That is, a bunch who are mixed and bound together in and by Jesus Christ. Every congregation is a complex mix of diverse people But there is a tie that binds our hearts and souls together. It is the love God has for each of us and the common love we have for Jesus and the church He died to save. Blest be the tie that binds!

Dan Gulley
Smithville chruch of Christ