Even though the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have perfect and eternal unity, yet they remain distinct persons. In the same way, even though someday we shall attain perfect unity with other believers and with Christ, yet we shall forever remain distinct persons as well, with our own individual gifts, abilities, interests, responsibilities, circles of personal relationships, preferences and desires.
We are all fighting the same enemy. If you read through the Bible, you will find that. Read through the subsequent history of the Christian church, and you will find that God’s people in times of persecution have always been driven together and cemented together in a much closer manner than they had ever been at any other time. They are fighting the same common foe, so they draw together. And as Christians… it should have this effect upon us: we are aware of one another, and we draw closer together; our love for one another is increased because of our circumstances.
Imagine what the world would be like, if everyone who called themselves a Christian, would really love each other with the love of Jesus. There would be no gossip, judgment or criticism. No exclusive attitudes that made others feel rejected. The needs of people all around us, would be met. His love was more than kind deeds and concern. The love of Jesus was unbiased and generous. He was a servant. We’re able to love one another, when we realise how much He loves us. We’re able to love one another the way He did.
If I am content to heal a hurt slightly, saying “Peace, peace,” where is no peace; if I forget the poignant word “Let love be without dissimulation” and blunt the edge of truth, speaking not right things but smooth things, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
The first service one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love of God begins in listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His Word but lends us His ear. So it is His work that we do for our brother when we learn to listen to him.
Independence, fear, and pride all keep us from the deep relationships that we need with God and His people. It is so important that we have people in our lives that we trust more than we trust ourselves. Do you have a relationship with someone you would trust with your life? If that person told you that you have a problem, and you were blind to it, would you believe that person even though it didn’t feel true? We need to build these kinds of relationships to keep us safe so we can live on the radical edge.
Jesus intentionally brought together disciples who were very different – fishermen, tax collectors – not people who would naturally love one another. But he did this to show us what love looks like in practice. We have the privilege of putting this same kind of love on display as we love those in the body of Christ who don’t look like us.
Speaking of our tendency to imitate, I find that my own mind seems remarkably malleable, impressed by whatever I read or see modeled around me. A steady diet of cynical political commentary always makes me more negative. Being with friends who gossip can make me more careless about how I speak. None of us is so mature that we cannot be influenced. The question is: Who or what do we want to shape our lives? Even the culture around us will try to ‘disciple’ us if we have not placed ourselves under the transforming influence of Jesus Christ.
Race instinct, sense of nationality, enmity, and hatred, these are divisive forces between peoples. This is an astonishing punishment and a terrible judgment, and cannot be undone by any cosmopolitanism or leagues of peace, by any ‘universal’ language, nor by any world-state or international culture. If ever there is to be unity among mankind again it will not be achieved by any external, mechanical rallying around some tower of Babel or other, but by a development from within, a gathering under one and the same Head (Eph 1:10), by the peacemaking creation of all peoples into a new man (Eph 2:15), by regeneration and renewal through the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:15), and by the walking of all people in one and the same light (Rev 21:24).
In church, we sit together and sing together and greet one another cheerily as we leave at the end of a service. We do all of these things, sometimes for years, without forming any real personal Christian relationships. Our words often seem superficial. The church, therefore, becomes a place where Christians live alone together.