We believe that God has given St. Giles a unique gift of and calling to community. With that gift comes the responsibility maintain the health of existing relationships, heal broken relationships, to extend this gift of community to others, and model genuine for community for other churches.
It is because of this deep sense of community – something we have often called “common.unity” – that we are committed to Biblical Peacemaking.
A Theology of Relationships
The importance of relationships begins with the nature of God. When the Bible tells us that God Himself exists as Trinity, we are being told that at the very center of God Himself we the find perfect community of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
It is this God – the One True God who’s very nature expresses community – who’s image we are created in. It is no wonder that the cry of the human soul is for authentic relationship. We are designed from the ground up to be connected, both to God and to one another.
In contrast to this, we live in a culture of casual or broken relationships. Families have suffered through divorce or estrangement and friends drift apart. Sadly, the church is too often characterized by superficial ties. We say “hello” on Sunday mornings but do not really share life.
In America, the human heart is often lonely.
In light of God’s gracious design and deep human desire, we believe that genuine community is “a God event”. Love is magnetic and when people – both believers and non-believers – see genuine community they are drawn to it and thus drawn deeper into God’s love. Jesus Himself affirmed exactly this when he said, “All men will know you are my disciples, if you have love one for another” (John 13:35). Community is at the heart of New Testament faith.
Healing Relationships and Keeping Them Healthy
As vital as the Bible’s call to community is, Scripture is no less urgent about the reality of sin. The fact that we are fallen by no means lessens God’s calling to community but it causes us to be sober minded in our commitments. Life-giving relationships among “recovering sinners” requires patience, humility, a willingness to forgive, and commitment. Paul the Apostle affirmed just this sort of realistic determination when he wrote, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).
How do imperfect people live in healthy relationships with one another? The answer is “Biblical Peacemaking”. The Session of St. Giles believes that to be called to Christ is also to be called to community, and that to be called to community is to be called to peacemaking. Jesus Himself said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). As the elders and pastor of St. Giles, we call ourselves and the congregation to the principles of “Personal Peacemaking” and “Assisted Peacemaking” described below.
• Whenever we are faced with conflict, our primary goal will be to glorify God with our thoughts, words and actions (1 Cor. 10:31).
• We will try to get the “logs” out of our own eyes before focusing on what others may have done wrong (Matt. 7:3-5).
• We will seek to overlook minor offenses (Prov. 19:11).
• We will refrain from all gossip, backbiting, slander, speculation, and accusation (Eph. 4:29). If we have a problem with others, we will talk to them, not about them (Matt. 18:15-16).
• We will believe the best about each other unless or until we have facts that prove otherwise (1 Cor. 13:7).
• If an offense is too serious to overlook, of if we think someone may have something against us, we will go promptly to seek reconciliation (Matt. 5:23-24; 18:15).
• When we must confront or correct another, we will do so graciously and gently, with the goal of serving and restoring them (Prov. 12:18; Eph. 4:29; Gal. 6:1).
• When someone confronts or corrects us, we will ask God to help us resist prideful defensiveness and to accept correction with humility (Ps. 141:5; Prov. 15:32).
• When others repent, we will ask God to give us grace to forgive them as he has forgiven us (Eph. 4:32).
• When we discuss or negotiate substantive issues, we will look out for other’s interests as well as our own (Phil. 2:3-4).
• When a conflict cannot be resolved privately, we will seek the mediation of wise people in our church and listen humbly to their counsel (Matt. 18:16; Phil. 4:2-3). If our dispute is with a church leader, we will look to other leaders for assistance.
• When informal mediation does not resolve a dispute, we will seek formal assistance from our church leaders or people they appoint, and we will submit to their counsel and correction (Matt. 18:17-20).
The Session of St. Giles calls every member of the body – beginning with ourselves – to these principles of peacemaking. We see them as essential expressions of Biblical truth and at the same time consistent with our membership vow to,“uphold the peace, purity, and unity of the church” . We believe that our gift and calling to “common.unity” are a unique and powerful expression of Christ’s Presence among us and as such a sign and wonder to both the Church and the world.