Following on from last weeks focus on our UP relationship , David Highlighted part of last weeks Ephesians 1 passage to introduce today’s focus on our ‘ IN’ relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ
David highlighted that the Apostle Paul had noticed that this was a stand out characteristic of the Ephesian Christians , their love for one another and their faith in Jesus .
David challenged all of us to think of fellow believers in our work , uni , church family , friendship groups…
Is the defining characteristic of how you relate to other Christians .. Love ?
Does the way you speak to them , about them , how you behave toward them or pray for them, is your attitude toward them characterised by love and would it be noticible to others .
To explain why this idea is so important David highlighted that two of the most important commandments in the Old Testament that underpin the Christian faith are in summary
‘Love God and Love your Neighbour’
Following these commands were to help the Israelites stand out as children of God
These commands speak to the Up ( Love God ) , and Out (Love Neighbour) parts of our Triangle Illustration
Then in New Testament , Jesus the only new commandment Jesus gives – found in John 13 does not replace or undermine the above but rather enhances it .The context for this is in the Upper room and Jesus’ Farewell Discourse with the Disciples , spoken just after Judas had left
The prophet Jeremiah spoke God’s word into serious and difficult situations as he talked about the impending destruction of Jerusalem
Finding rest for your souls is a choice you make for yourself. The people in Jeremiah’s day chose not to walk that way and didn’t find the rest they needed.
Every other writer in the New Testament grasped the importance and fundamental necessity of this commandment by Jesus
Also the Apostle John – who recorded the Words said in the Upper room further echoed and emphasised the importance of this new commandment in his letters to the early Christians
David highlighted that given the importance of this commandment that it is important to further examine Jesus’ commandment
by this , all people will know that you are my disciples’
This reflects the ‘In’ dimension of the triangle – it must be a marked notable love for one another – so that it communicates to an unbelieving world what makes Christians stand out
Francis Schaeffer Quote from ‘ The Mark of the Christian’
Our relationships with each other in the Christian family have to be marked by love because it is that tangible loving one another aspect of our faith that reveals our identity as disciples of Jesus
However Jesus adds an ‘if’ to qualify his commandment
,If you have love for one another.”
to show that it can be broken , it is still a choice of obedience to follow or not follow this commandment .Later in John 14 Jesus says ‘ If you love me keep my commands’ and if we love him we will seek to love one another
If we don’t love one another -and often unfortunately Christians can often be known for their disputes divisions and unloving attitudes to one another – then we are impacting our witness
The truthfulness of the gospel remains unchanged but our witness and our claim to love the Jesus of the gospel is severely undermined if we don’t love one another .
Our salvation is unchanged but a watching unbelieving world will be confused by our claim to follow and love Jesus
The way we relate to each other in our local church family , filters outwards
How do we love one another ?
Jesus’ instruction clarifies
‘Love one another. Just As I have loved you, so you must love one another’
This is a very high standard !
Shows that the love we are called to show is more than a feeling or a sentiment , it is a Christ like love
It’s a love that gives , does , costs , its without limits , it’s a cross shaped love
The other New Testament writers reflect this Christ like love in all the ‘one another verses ‘ that we are familiar with – the practical outworking of sacrificial love for one another
We in Windsor Baptist need to live out this command to ‘ love one another’
If we love one another in the true sense it conveys two things
- It communicates to all non believers that we are Jesus disciples – it is our badge of true discipleship
- it confirms the authenticity of our love for Jesus , as if we truly love him we will obey his commandment
The IN dimension of our faith should point others to him and we should love one another because He first loved us !