“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to 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)
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:9-10)
“Beloved, let us love one another…” (1 John 4:7)
The Bible is packed full of examples and exhortations to “love one another”. And not just to love our fellow brethren in Christ, but to love all, even those who “curse you”.
This love that is spoken of so often in Scripture isn’t the love that many of us have come to know in modern society; that is, love that expects something in return. This love, that Jesus and His apostles spoke so often about, is to be a sincere love — the love that is in Christ. For His love, for He is love, is different from what many of us have come to know. His love, which indeed dwells in us, seeks to honor others above Himself.
The love that we naturally possess (apart from Christ) has limits and bounds. However, the love that He possesses and that He embodies, is the love that is found in 1 Corinthians 13. And the amazing thing about this love is the very fact that it’s not ours to show, but it is His to show through us. This comes by simple rest and trust in Him who lives in us by the Holy Spirit.
Love: the Lost Art
For many of us that have left the institutional system, we have lost something that needs so desperately to return to us: Love.
Many have been abused, mistreated, and even spiritually and psychologically damaged by many religious systems and movements. This is a fact. Also, many of us have also come to see through this mistreatment a need to return to the pattern of church practice and structure that we see in Scripture. It’s a beautiful thing, don’t get me wrong.
But, one thing that has been lost or forgotten in the process, is that we are called to love our brothers and sisters in Christ — no matter what our theological or ecclesiological differences may be.
Many see the “Organic Church Movement” in a very negative light because many in this “movement” have spent countless hours speaking badly against their fellow brothers and sisters that choose to meet in traditional churches. This fact is sad and literally breaks my heart.
Many break away from the traditional system because they see the inconsistency in what they read in Scripture versus what they see in church. But after breaking away from that system, they often become what they oppose. Instead of showing by example what is right, they continue to set themselves apart from the religious system by ridiculing the people who still attend such services. They cry for unity but they divide. They claim a desire for love and acceptance, but they disown and reject.
The words of Christ are quite clear: love one another, love those who curse you; bless those who abuse you.
But this doesn’t only apply to those who are in agreement with the “Organic Church model” of doing church. It applies to all that call on the name of Jesus. That means loving and accepting those who may have different beliefs how worship is supposed to be done, how to dress, whether or not the rapture will happen, emphasis on spiritual gifts, etc. etc. The reason we have over 30,000 Christian denominations today is because we refuse to accept and love those who have opposing emphases on different matters of theology or doctrine or church practice.
The model for the church, whether you attend an institutional church or an Organic Church, is all accepting. In the words of Paul (which still have a use today), “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28)
Regaining that Lost Art-Form
This post is meant to be an encouragement — an encouragement to love those who disagree with you. To love those who say you are wrong and strictly oppose you with their words and actions. To love those who gossip about you, to bless them and pray for them. To love those who you may deem as “religious”. To love those that accuse you of sin or heresy, even when it hurts. And above all, to love those who misunderstand you.
Love doesn’t mean that we lose our opinions and our convictions and give in to what others are saying in order to relieve disagreement. But love seeks unity within the midst of disagreement. Love seeks patience against a violent word against us. Love seeks peace in the midst of strife and friction. This is the way of Jesus Christ and you and I are called to this way as well.
To love this way means to deny ourselves. To be silent at times we wish to defend ourselves. At other times it means to speak up and be heard.
Saints, children of God, loved by the Father, let us love one another in order to show others, believers and unbelievers alike, the way of Jesus Christ.