In John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Jesus command to love one another is “agape” love and we are called to love in this manner one another with generous, self-sacrificing love. We proclaim God’s love to the world in word, action, and deed. To love one another is a mutual command and speaks of community life. The word community if separated means “common unity” as believers we have one thing in common and that is Jesus Christ and love makes unity possible. May we set as a goal to view each other with the respect and value that Christ has place upon each of us. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son , that whosoever will believe in Him will not die but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
It never fails, about the time I have God somewhat figured out he does something so marvelous it astounds me. This week I did a funeral for a dear lady who was like a mother to me and her kids are the best of friends. But as far as I know this family never attended Church of any kind or had any instruction of any Church denomination. But she came down with a lung disease and before her passing asked for me to help her prepare her for the transition. What astounded me was she had no doubt of God’s love for her nor of Christ’s redemptive power to save her as she and her husband made a confession of faith in Christ. But did have reservation of the Church and its conduct. With in a few days she passed and I marveled how sometimes its not how we start the race of life, but how we finish such as the thief on the cross (Lk. 23:42-43). How much God the Father loved her and waited for her to turn to Him for help now she has the security of the eternal love of God.
But the next thing that came to mind was that she personally asked for me to minister to her in this time. I have always said that sometimes I stand at a loss how our savior would have used somebody like me to proclaim His love and grace to humanity. It seems to me that after 29 years of ministry my community is looking to me more and more for answers, reassurance and leadership in spiritual matters. I don’t say this in any bragging fashion but only to make an statement of God’s amazing grace and to encourage someone starting out that God can and will utilize everything about your life as a proclamation of His redemptive power.
The other thing was simply this if we make ourselves available to His Grace, God will place opportunities for you to be an instrument to the nations, tribes and tongues of humanity. Its the most overwhelming experience to have a part in someones salvation and the thought that someone will spend eternity in God’s love and not in Hell is a emotional rush.
A few years ago, I served on a pastoral team with two other men of God for 14 years; it was unique experience as we blended gifts, personalities, weaknesses, talents, and strengths for the kingdom of God. Now I am working with a new group of pastors and the process starts over once again. Romans 15:7, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” What does that mean? The Greek word for “accept” literally means “to receive,” or “to take to one’s self,” as into a home or heart as an act of kindness.
Within this is a command to “stop passing judgment on one another”, Paul rebukes the early church in Rome for judging one another over issues of clean and unclean foods.
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” Romans 14:11-19
Within the community of God, there will always be weak and strong and the standard for acceptance and approval is spiritual faith, not human endurement, maturity not works. We are not to use our knowledge, experiences, or maturity to please ourselves and puff ourselves up. No, we are to become the servants of all and accept and build up the weaker brother.
We the community of God are to accept others in the same way that Christ has accepted us, with love, grace and peace. Allowing the Holy Spirit to work in the individual’s personal life, as we love and care for one another. Our acceptance by God is through no righteousness of our own, but totally upon Christ and His grace, purchased through the Cross. This brings praise to God and a testimony of His love to all. Shalom