Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Was this a mere "suggestion" from Jesus?

We Christians have long focused on accusing each other of faithlessness, error and bad doctrine, and excluded those we disagree with from our churches and lives, as if our primary calling as believers is to malign each other, using sarcasm and condescension. We justify this as a defense of the faith. But when I am feeling most dismissive of other Christians and their "errors," I find myself drawn inevitably back to what Scripture instructs me CLEARLY to do:

1 Corinthians 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 

1 John 3:11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

2 Thessalonians 1:3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.

2 Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

And then at last I always find myself back at the prayer, the plea of Jesus to his Father FOR US:

John 17:20 I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 

We hear His words here, but then we seem to regard them as suggestion, not heartfelt plea. Yet He told us again and again to love God, neighbor and even enemy, to love Him as He loved us. He loved and prayed for His disciples even though their theology was usually confused, and even though they often did not really understand WHO HE IS. 

He loves us just this way as well. We are to love Him and others just this way. Let's each of us choose now to begin (or continue) to love, rather than mock, to love, rather than divide.

John 15:12 This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.