What's Love Got to Do With it?
**THIS IS NOT A POST ABOUT POLITICS!! I know we are all weary of anything to do with the election...so please keep reading!!
Yes, I did stay up until 2am on election night. (And yes, I fell asleep for a few minutes on my desk the next day!) Over these months leading up to election night, I have seen and heard the name calling (even hate speech) from people claiming to be Christians...directed at other Christians. The Presidential election is over and a new season for our country begins. True.
I don't believe life is random. We serve a sovereign God who is as John Piper said, "always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them. Not only may you see a tiny fraction of what God is doing in your life; the part you do see may make no sense to you."
You may be frustrated with America. Or burdened for Americans. It may make NO SENSE to you. But, if you claim to be a Christian, truly believing Jesus Christ is your Savior and Lord, and you believe the Word of God as truth, then we MUST obey God's word to love one another. God is doing something, even if we don't understand. Perhaps God is giving Christians a real opportunity to shine in this dark world...different and beautiful. Because, brother and sister...more than political views and much more than a nation is at stake.
The Bible says loving your brother is a matter of Life and Death.
I really enjoy my daily bible annual reading plan. It is always amazing how the verses that I am to read for the day seem to apply to a something I am working on or even how the Lord can help me minister to others. When I read 1 John 2:9-11 this morning it spoke a challenge for me to encourage other believers. So, here comes encouragement!
The Lord laid on my heart a truth that I already know but needs repeating in this season. Believers need other believers...as means to express the gracious love that has been given to them through Christ. Not only do believers need other believers, but they need the local church. The church is a safeguard for believers to know they are walking in the light.
In John 2 we see the apostle build an argument that helps believers find confidence and assurance in their relationship to Christ, “I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). One of the markers of true believers is their relationship and desire to be around other believers. John describes this in a beautiful picture of walking in light verse walking in darkness.
If Christians love their brothers and sisters in Christ, then they are walking in the light. What beautiful imagery. This is a lot like how Christ describes His children as little lights in Matthew 5:14. Wouldn’t that mean when we gather together that we spread a lot of light?
We just experienced a huge hurricane that ran through the east coast and devastated homes, many losing power for days. At our home, in preparation for the storm we placed out a lot of candles so that we could see if the power went out. (We never lost power at our house thankfully). Did we get out just one candle? No, many. If we had lost power, it would be ridiculous to light just one candle. It would only illuminate a small portion of one room. We have two small children...we need to know where they are!
Much in the same way it is ridiculous for the believer to think that he can blaze a trail on his own apart from the body of Christ. It is when we are running together that we become that bright light that penetrates the darkness, many hearts. Christ told His disciples, “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
This term “love” is the verb form of AGAPE in the Greek, which is rooted in God’s active, overwhelming, and transcendent love for His people. This is the kind of love that both Jesus and John are calling Christians too. Here is WHY it is a matter of life and death: It is by this love that the world will recognize the true light of the Gospel, when Christians love one another. However, we must also be warned the opposite is also true.
John is also writing to those that claim to know Christ yet they “hate” their brother. Now hate is a strong word, but it is the same word that Jesus uses to describe when the world hates Christians by the persecution that they inflict (Luke 6:22). John describes the fact that there will be those that are claiming to be in relationship to God, yet they hate, revile, despise their brothers. John quickly states that this cannot be the case and the truth is that those people that “hate” are in fact still in “darkness.”
Yet, before you quickly dismiss this truth as not applicable to you let’s ask some heart level questions.
1. Although, you may not “hate” in this sense, do you constantly avoid the gathered body of believers?
2. Have you been so inconsistent with your attendance to your local body that they do not even know who you are?
3. Are you meaningfully connected to a local community of Christ and seeking to love others?
4. Are you just an attender to Church and as soon as the pastor is done preaching you make a b-line for the door?
5. Do you participate when the gathered body seeks to minister in your community?
6. Do you love your body enough to bring those that are unchurched to your fellowship so they can experience that love and be impacted by the Gospel?
7. Can you honestly say that you have deep, meaningful relationships with others within your local body that you would say you “love” them?
You see it is hard to say that you love someone when you are never around them. Since love in this case is a verb and is active, it means that there must also be a recipient. You cannot say that you love the body of Christ, your brothers and sisters, and never engage with them on any meaningful level.
Or perhaps you are one of those that has given up on “organized religion” altogether and therefore have given up on the Church. Believers by their very nature have been changed by Christ and will love, actively, the body of Christ as testimony of that true relationship. If we have no love for the Church, do we love Jesus? He is the one who commanded us to LOVE His Bride.
This might be hard to hear for many that have been hurt by the Church. Trust me, I understand this well having been hurt deeply by a fellow brother in Christ. But regardless of the situation the call of Christ is the same. After all, aren’t you thankful that Christ continues to love you regardless of how many times you have sinned against Him daily. His love is an eternal love that continues to fill the believer. I want to exhort you to think deeply about your commitment to the local body, and your love (and words) to and about other believers. Remember, our love to brothers and sisters is first an assurance of our relationship with Jesus AND second, unbelievers watch our love toward one another to see if this God we serve is REAL!
Let me leave you with some familiar words from the writer of Hebrews to exhort you:
“Therefore, brothers, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way He has opened for us through the curtain (that is, His flesh), and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:19-25). One day it will not be a new President that begins an new era. It will be the dawning of the Reign of Jesus when He returns. Will we be recognized as His kingdom by our love for others and His Bride?
You see, believers whose hearts “have been sprinkled clean” through the powerful work of Christ, will always seek to share that same love that has been given to their fellow brothers and sister in Christ.
Encouragement for Today: LOVE YOUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN WORDS AND ACTIONS...as if it was a matter of Life and Death. Love's got everything to do with it!