God-likeness forms the foundation for us to properly relate to our brothers and sisters. Apart from Christ being formed in us to bring God-like character, we will not be able to be built together properly with our brothers and sisters. The biggest problems seem to come in relationships one with another. This is because too often we try to have fellowship on a natural level instead of moving in a spiritual relationship.
To move in a spiritual relationship with my brothers and sisters, I first must have allowed God to discipline my life and bring me under His control. I must allow God to affect who I am, so that it is Christ and His character that is being expressed through my whole person. This will enable me to serve Christ to my brothers and sisters. This service may take many expressions, but they will all be to the upbuilding and edification of the saints.
"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you" (Eph. 4:29-32). Notice the context of the phrase "do not grieve the Holy Spirit." It is in our relationships with each other. Paul tells us that we are now members of the Body of Christ. This is a real relationship in the Spirit. If we do not recognize this relationship with each other, and treat it lightly or with carelessness, we grieve the Holy Spirit and destroy spiritual fellowship. In this place we cannot move together, and our ability to express the character of God together ceases.
Notice that all of the previous virtues that Peter mentions relate primarily to us as individuals, but here we are speaking of something that involves all of my brothers and sisters. The other areas must be working in my life to be able to walk in brotherly kindness. The character of God is not primarily expressed through me as an individual, but through the Body of Christ as a whole. Each member must be alive unto God and be a fit living stone, but none of us can express God fully by ourselves. Together we are the Body of Christ, a full expression of the character and life of God, which takes nothing less than the divine power of God. Until we are beginning to walk in this expression of God together, we have hardly even begun to walk in the purpose of God for our lives. The whole working of God is to bring us together to move as one under Christ our Head, doing His will.
So much of what is called Christianity today does not even touch this. Men have created programs that allow us to stay separate. By so doing, we remain isolated, detached from one another, just a group of individuals instead of one body. Our movement has no power to affect others for God because we are moving alone, separate from God and from our brothers and sisters. Not only do we suffer a lack, but our brothers and sisters are affected because the supply that should be coming through each member is not present. Without a proper relationship with our brothers and sisters, we will not be able to speak the truth in love one to another, and we will not grow up into God (Eph. 4:14-16). We are talking about growing up into God. The pathway is together--knit together in love. Have we begun? Are we continuing?