John summed it up with two sentences. He wrote, "If anyone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God who he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother" (1 John 4:20-21.)
I've met men and women who tell me loving their brothers and sisters means they must point out everything they do that's annoying, wrong, or embarrassing. They'll cite passages from Timothy about correction and reproof or from Matthew about talking with a brother and eventually bringing all their sins to the Church. Is this really love?
Does arguing over family differences that have no bearing on our salvation show love? In other words, if you believe we're going to be standing next to each other in heaven, worshiping the King of Kings, how much do we need to fight about the little things?
Paul was very concerned about this when he wrote his letter to the Philippians.
First he asked a series of rhetorical questions. "So if there is any encouragement in Christ" (and I think we agree, there is), "any comfort from love" (yes, there's that too), "any participation in the Spirit" (yes), and "any affection and sympathy" (I sure hope so). If these things are present, then he writes, "complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." (Philippians 2:1-5.) Paul wanted the Philippian church to love one another in unity. I want the same for Redeeming Life Church.
As we look to understand how to do this, I turn to Paul's instruction manual. In Philippians 2:5-11, Paul shows us that we must follow Christ's example. In fact, we are called to have the mind of Christ. That's a tall order considering that while we were his enemies he died for us. How are you doing loving your 'enemies'? And if we're called to love our enemies (which we are, Matthew 5 and Luke 6), then how much more are we called to love our fellows brothers and sisters?
We'll take a deeper look into this topic from the lens of Philippians 2:1-11 on May 31, 2015. We'll start at 11am at the NorthWest Community Center. I hope we see you there!
Soli Deo gloria!