Love One Another
“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
These are central verses to the life of our church. In these verses, Jesus commands us to love one another. We must strive to keep and teach all the commands of Jesus, but some teachings take on greater importance than others. This command is specifically related to “one another,” or how we treat each other as fellow Christians in the church. Jesus then directly relates this to how the outside watching world will perceive us as the church.
The world will know that we are disciples of Jesus Christ not primarily by arguments we give for the truthfulness of Christianity, the political stances we take, or the structural appearance of our church programs – but by the way we love each other. Why is this? I believe this is true because we cannot love each other without the authentic work of the Holy Spirit. We are all naturally selfish, greedy, and oriented toward our own personal enrichment. Only by the salvation of Jesus are our hearts changed to first love God and then love those around us authentically and sacrificially. It is by the work of God in our hearts that we are changed, and every person that is born again will bear the fruit of love.
Below are some practical ways I want to urge you to love the other people in Redeemer Bible Church. The more we grow in these ways toward each other, the more the work of the Holy Spirit in our midst will burn brightly. The more we love each other in these ways, the more our love will constantly spill over to the lost world outside our church.
First, value the differences of various people in the church. God has made us different for a purpose. Together, in Christ, we are like a body with many different parts. In Redeemer we have people that are bold, quiet, funny, serious, musical, practical, visionary, artistic, organized, gifted with their hands, gifted with speech, academic, and adventurous. It is vital that in loving each other we value the personality differences of other people in the church. You must not see your personality type and your gifts as most important, but understand that each of you play a part in the life of the church body. By the Holy Spirit, we work to encourage each other’s gifts and see no lack in the church. We love each other the way we are, we do not work to fundamentally change someone from the way they have been made by God.
Second, we must love each other enough to forgive each other. We are all sinners and as Christians, have been forgiven a debt we could never pay. Jesus has forgiven this debt by His great mercy and love. By forgiving this debt He is glorified! We must pray for great love toward each other – love that freely forgives offenses. Love is not resentful, and does not keep a tally of wrongdoing (1 Cor 13:5). As we freely forgive each other by love, Jesus is glorified in the church.
Third, if we love each other we will pray for each other. I strongly encourage you to keep notes on your phone or a small notebook as to how you can pray for those in the church. As you talk to people note their needs so you can pray for them. I also encourage you to take the member directory, and pray through it one page at a time. As you begin or end your day, open the directory and pray for a family in the church. Pray for marriages, teenagers, kids, work, spiritual growth, and health. The Holy Spirit will use this like nothing else to bear love in your heart toward others.
Fourth, respect one another. By this I am specifically referring to listening to others and not interrupting them. If we love one another we will truly listen to each other and not interrupt with our own thoughts. When we interrupt we are not listening. When we interrupt we are saying loud and clear, “What I have to say is more important than what you have to say.” We teach children not to interrupt because it’s rude. It’s still rude to interrupt others as an adult. It’s a direct act of disrespect and shows a lack of love and patience.
Fifth, use your words to bless and encourage. In the work world we are surrounded by words that are profane, proud, critical, lying, angry, and selfish. As Christians our words must be different because they come from a new heart. Jesus speaks about this like water from a well. You cannot draw bad water from a good well, or good water from a bad well. The mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. When we overflow with words of blessing toward each other it displays the work of the Spirit in our hearts.
Sixth, help one another in practical ways. Let us observe those that Jesus brings into our lives each week. Though we must be ready to help any person that is providentially brought into our life, we must be particularly mindful of our brothers and sisters in the church. When practical needs arise, we must not turn away and ignore what is before us. If the need can be met by you personally, then do what needs to be done in love and sacrificial joy. If the need is too big, please let a deacon know so we can work together to meet the need, and so bear one another’s burdens.
Seventh, we show love by not having cliques in the church. Though it is good and valuable to have deep friendships, there must always be room in the circle for one more. Always an open seat for the new and lonely person. As we enjoy those we love, we must always look up and see the person sitting by themselves. The love of Christ will move your heart to go and reach out in friendship.
Eighth, we must give each other the benefit of the doubt. By this I mean that when offenses arise we must not default to thinking that our fellow Christian is against us. I strongly encourage you to default in your mind that there must be some misunderstanding. Practically, I urge you to not attempt to clear up misunderstandings by text or email. Text and email do not allow for the interpersonal exchange necessary to clear up misunderstandings. Often they can make the situation worse. Also, love does not allow misunderstandings to turn into gossip. When struggles arise pray for the courage to speak directly with the person in an attempt to resolve the problem. The Spirit will use a heart of prayer, love, and direct personal communication to resolve many struggles and bind us together, instead of driving us apart.
Lastly, enjoy one another! I urge you as brothers and sisters in Christ to open your houses in hospitality, have coffee together, call for no reason than to just talk, and be a good friend! Friendship is one of the great blessings of the church. Be a good friend that you might have good friends. Reach out in the love of Christ first, that Jesus might be glorified.
May the Holy Spirit of the Lord bear His fruit of love in Redeemer. May the fruit of love abound and overflow, and as our love for each other burns brightly may the world know that we are disciples of Jesus Christ!
The love of Christ to you,