The greatest outward expression we can do as Christian’s is to display the inward change of the heart. The heart will always be the visible mark for others to see, who we truly belong too. See, what comes from the heart will always express the true intent of a person's motives, whether by their words or their actions! It has been said by many “At no other time in the history of Christianity did love so characterize the entire church as it did in the first three centuries. And Roman society took note. Tertullian reported that the Romans would exclaim, “See how they love one another!” Justin Martyr sketched Christian love this way: “We who used to value the acquisition of wealth and possessions more than anything else now bring what we have into a common fund and share it with anyone who needs it. We used to hate and destroy one another and refused to associate with people of another race or country. Now, because of Christ, we live together with such people and pray for our enemies.” Clement, describing the person who has come to know God, wrote, “He impoverishes himself out of love, so that he is certain he may never overlook a brother in need, especially if he knows he can bear poverty better than his brother. He likewise considers the pain of another as his own pain. And if he suffers any hardship because of having given out of his own poverty, he does not complain.”
How are we doing as a body for the Lord Jesus Christ when it comes to loving one another? I think sometimes as Christians we spend more time studying, memorizing, talking at round tables among one another about what we are to be like in a fallen world …but we never end up doing what the word says.
Don’t get me wrong! Studying, talking and learning more about the bible and how we are to grow in the Christian life.
But if these life changing principles are not put into daily practice, then all were doing is filling our selfish hearts with biblical truth to make ourselves feel better about our Christian life. God’s word and truth is to be exemplified in our lives. By doing this it brings glory to God for His beauty and grace found in Christ. As Jesus continues his teaching in the upper room…something is much different now! Judas is gone and now Jesus begins to fill his disciples with more practical biblical truth that they will be able to pass on to others.
But first Jesus says something that would seem strange to the common man, but it helps us to understand this love. The Father and the Son will be glorified…….but you said you are going to die on a cross though Jesus? How can that bring glory to you Jesus? His death purchased salvation by satisfying the demands of God’s justice for those who put their faith and trust in Him. His death demonstrates His compassion, His patience and His power. His death destroyed the power of sin and death. How can God the Father get glory in your death Jesus? Christ’s death displayed God’s power by raising Jesus from the dead. Christ’s death declared God’s justice because sin is a violation against His holy Law. Christ’s death revealed God’s holiness and His hatred for sin. Christ’s death expressed God’s faithfulness to provide a redeemer since the garden. Christ’s death demonstrates God’s love towards sinners. The cross demonstrates the glory of God is the highest expression of self-sacrifice and by doing this Jesus and the Father are glorified through the cross.
What does God want of us to do? Jesus, answers this question by telling His disciples a truth that we should all exemplify in….DAILY! He says this simple truth!............... “Love one another”. But there is a problem in the Christian church! There seems to be a NEW THEOLOGY or a NEW VERSION of the bible that is saying it’s ok to love Jesus but hate His church. That’s what we call an “oxymoron” think about it for a minute! If you profess to love Jesus and hate the church, then you truly don’t understand what it means to love Christ and the gospel. See, Christ died for His church and to hate His church is to say “Jesus you are crazy for dying for those losers.” It’s an insult to His divine plan and providence by preserving His bride for future glory with Him. It insults His redemptive plan to save lost sinners….losers like you me! This is why we such a problem in the church! It is a sad fact that one does not have to look at the Christian church very long before discovering that believers often do not love each other as they ought.
Where do we see this in the Christian community? R C Sproul said “the proliferation of denominations is one example of this. While it is true that many were formed out of a legitimate need to maintain the purity of the Gospel, it is also true that others started because individuals could not lovingly tolerate disagreement on matters not essential to the faith. Even now, what should be minor issues become major ones and insults are hurled across denominational lines at those who share the true faith. Perhaps more troubling is the fact that even believers within the same church have trouble loving one another. How many of us dislike others in our own church simply because they have certain quirks or have not progressed as far in their sanctification as we might like?” Jesus is telling us that there is no room for this kind of behaviour in the church!
You will find nowhere in the scripture that we have the right to hate, dislike or not able or equipped to get along with others. The bible says for us to "Love your brother and sister in Christ, love your enemy, love those who hate you."Jesus said in Matt 5:43-44 "You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,. This is a vital truth that will sustain the church and hold it together for many generations to come. I know this is hard, but it’s a command that our Lord gives. Jesus, exemplified this for us to live by and He ultimately demonstrated that through His death on the cross for sinners. In fact his sacrificial death both provides the example of love as well as creates the community in which we are to love one another. That’s of the charts love church family! And by demonstrating that love Jesus leaves us with a New Command!
Command by definition is……to give (someone) an order; to tell (someone) to do something in a forceful and often official way; to have authority and control over (a group of people, such as soldiers). Was this a really a New Command? No, it was a deeper expression or a higher standard than the old commandment that God gave to His people “…but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.” Lev 19:18. This command didn’t wipe the old command away, all it did was help the listener or the reader understand the vital importance of this command. This command Jesus gave them as he was about to leave them, was to be a badge of discipleship, by which they might be known as his friends and followers, and by which they might be distinguished from all others. See this command extends beyond the church to embrace all people. We read for example in 1 Thess 3:12 Paul wrote “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you,”So that we might increase not decreases the love that was displayed for us in the gospel of Jesus Christ. This command is very important not just to memorize, put on a T-shirt, but to put into action daily as God’s children saved by grace and mercy!
My question for us is….can we do this? WHY?...........
- Loving one another demonstrates we are born of God.
- Loving one another demonstrates we know God's love.
- Loving one another demonstrates we obey God.
- Loving one another demonstrates we are indwelt by God.
- Loving one another demonstrates we have confidence before God.
- Loving one another demonstrates we are truthful.
Again we must ponder the cross…the spotlight of God’s kindness, compassion, forgiveness and love towards sinners like us. This is the only way we are going to be able to truly love others, the unlovable, the ones who annoy you because your [were] selfish and want people to be more like you or me! Looking to the cross and His finished work through the continual daily work of the Spirit in our lives. Augustine said "You brag of your faith in Christ, but show me your faith by your love to Christ; for faith and love cannot be separated."
The Bible says “Love is patient [a person is slow to anger when abused, not quick of resentment, nor hasty to revenge when affronted; but exercises forbearance, suffers long, and bears much, and is ready to forgive] and kind [does good to all men, even to enemies]. Love is not jealous [does not envy the temporal happiness of others], not boastful, [is not flashy of what he has, a proud boaster to promote his own honour and interest, without considering what will be the consequence of things] not proud [to inflate with pride] and not rude [will be careful that no filthy and corrupt communication proceed out of his mouth, which may offend]. It does not demand its own way. [This person will make most for his honour and glory; and the things of Christ, and what relate to the spread of his Gospel and the enlargement of his kingdom, seeking the interest of others well-being before their own] It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. [It means that love, or that a person under the influence of love, is not malicious, critical, inclined to find fault, or to attribute improper motives to others]. It does not rejoice about injustice [Does not rejoice over the “depravities” of other people; does not take delight when they are guilty of crime, or when, in any manner, they fall into sin. It does not find pleasure in hearing others accused of sin, and in having it proved that they committed it.] but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. [This person loves to rejoice that good is done, and the truth is defended and advanced whether by them or others.] This should be the theme song of our Christian lives……………Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Can you do that? Can you do what Paul says to the church here?
Serious can you do this?
If you struggle in this area of your Christian life then my suggestion is seek His face until you can. God has and is calling sinners to Himself….possibly someone who has harmed you in the past or someone you’ve always had a hard time getting along with. Remember were all sinners who desire love and acceptance and that has been fulfilled in the finishing work of the cross. The very act of love which glorifies the So, which ultimately glorifies the Godhead, three in one. It begins in the house of God, the church is to be a loving church in a dying culture. And when it’s being done in the house of God, it will be much easier to love our neighbor, our enemies, our fellow man who walk in darkness. Are you doing what you can to love earnestly and overlook a number of minor offenses from other people? Or do you tend to hold grudges? Are you expressing your love for others in your church through hospitality, or do you routinely avoid fellowship with others? Ask the Lord In prayer to help you love other Christians. Then demonstrate that to someone whom you have trouble loving, perhaps by inviting them over for a meal or coffee. We will never be able to impact this generation with the gospel, if we are not visibly demonstrating this command to love one another. This is important and should never be overlooked in the church! Why? Jesus gives the answer….by this they the world will know you are my true disciples. The love they practiced drew the attention of the world, just as Jesus said it would. Let’s follow the example of Jesus and the disciples as we love one another.