September 6, 2008

The Fellowship of Love

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."

(John 13:34 NIV)

Love is an act of our will and God says that we must choose to love one another no matter how we may feel towards someone or how unlovable we may think that they seem. No matter how difficult it is at times to love, we are constantly and deeply to love those believers that God brings into our lives at church, at bible studies, our neighborhoods and our families.

Love is a command that was given to us by God and it is our decision as to whether or not we will love as an act of obedience to the One who told us that we MUST love.

"And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother."

1 John 4:21

Scriptures says that love and obedience are synonymous with one another and Jesus tells us that if we love Him we will obey His commandments. (John14:15) Obeying is connected with love because it is a reflection of our unity as believers in Christ and that our foundation is in God. Jesus destroyed the illusion that love is based on feelings and He has pressed that definition to a higher level. Real love is the sacrifice of one life for another. Real love is Jesus on the cross and dying for us even while we are still lost in our sins. (Romans 5:8) We are to view one another as valued children in the eyes of our Heavenly Father realizing that everyone is well worth our time and energy because we are all a part of God's family. We must choose to love and not selectively choose whom we will love.

Love requires us to be in fellowship with one another because we cannot be obedient to the command of Christ if we are living in isolation. We must be connected in some way in order to show love to one another. Because God created each of us differently with different personalities and perspectives, it allows us each to bring something different to the table. It also means there will be hurt feelings or hang-ups because we will not always get along. Pride results in a lot of our issue but another reason is that it can just be too hard. We fail at being authentic with one another in our relationships and genuine relationships require a lot of work. We must be willing to be transparent and honest and able to confront one another in order to have relationships that are real and meaningful. It is always a lot easier to have those superficial relationships that allow us to condemn one another when we disagree about something and run the other way instead of committing to uphold what God has given each of us. God placed within us the need for real commitment and because His commitment to each of us is unbreakable, He wants us to extend that same commitment to each other. What I have learned is that this kind of commitment takes time and that is something that has become incredibly scarce in our lives today because of the self-centered way of thinking that has been taught to us by this world. It all comes down to choices and our commitment to Christ. Relationships allow us the opportunity to grow in Christ and love for one another as we learn to deal with conflict, forgiveness, reconciliation and commitment.

God planned for us to have healthy Christian relationships and this is how He designed it IF we are willing to make each other a priority and make the time to spend with one another. Proverbs 18:24 says that there is a
"friend who sticks closer than a brother"
and the only way to become this to one another is by focusing on having quality relationships in our lives and reflect Christ.

"A friend is always loyal,
      and a brother is born to help in time of need."

Proverbs 17:17

The love and commitment of Christ is a high standard to follow and it means that we should always be striving to reach towards that standard through His grace because on our own, it IS impossible. We must fully rely on His Spirit living within us to love as He loves and we must practice the most basic behavior of commitment and that is simply showing up; being there for those God has placed in your life.

"Father, may I not run from relationships because they become too hard. Teach me a love and commitment that can come only from Your Spirit living within me. Help me to always be available to those who need me and not focused on myself and my I always be reminded of my unbreakable commitment with You."

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