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Sunday, September 09, 2012

Love One Another


“I believe in God, but not the church.” “I’m okay with Jesus, but Christians are hateful.” Harsh? Perhaps it is to you who know the heart of God’s church, the beauty of its purpose in action, but in the eyes of many, “the church” is a frightening place. 

For the unchurched, and even some Christians, it represents judgment, fear, hate, hypocrisy, and greed. Many have experienced pain and condemnation at the hands of church goers, as well as church leaders. The separation between God and His church starts here. Hearts grow hard and cynical, eventually dulling to God and His love. They look at their lives, full of pain, sin, and imperfection, believing they are unwelcome in the church, and unacceptable to God. 



God cares deeply about His church, because the church is the hope of the world. Wait...the church described above? Doesn’t sound too full of hope, does it? But, God’s church as described in scripture...this is the world’s hope. Often, unchurched people, or falsely-taught church-goers, are unaware of the original intention for the church. Unfortunately, some churches have gone astray from the idea of Christ’s church, leaving negative beliefs in the hearts of many. 

The word “church” comes from the Greek “ekklesia,” which means “gathering” or “assembly.” In the simplest terms, the church is a gathering of believers who come together to worship God. The purpose of this church is to love and glorify God, and inform the world about Jesus.



In our society, kindness and love can sometimes fall by the wayside. People step on each other to reach the top, judge one another’s choices and actions, and separate themselves from each other according to class, race, sex or any number of categorical reasons.But, as Christians, we are called to live in opposition to the ways of the world.

John 13:35 (New Living Translation)
Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.
  
It seems simple, doesn’t it? Love one another. That’s pretty much it. Jesus doesn’t rattle off this huge statement defining this new command. It’s not followed by sub-sections and addendums. He says, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other” (John 13:34).Read that again. Did the word “judge” show up? No. How about the word “condemn”? That’s not there either. The focus of the church, from Jesus’ lips to our ears, is Love. Learn this love; accept this love; share this love. This is the purpose of the body of Christ.
       
As a church, our goal is to align with Jesus’  purpose for us. Are we perfect? No, we’re human. Only God’s love is perfect. Only He can cast out fear and only Jesus’ sacrifice can give us new life and wipe away our sins.

So, we serve others, teach them about this love, and love one another. We live our lives loving one another, because in this way we illustrate God’s love for the world.

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Sandra D. Bricker is a best-selling and award-winning author of laugh-out-loud romantic comedy for the Christian market. Her most recent book, Always the Designer Never the Bride is the third of a series of four novels in the Another Emma Rae Creation series from Abingdon Press Fiction. Check out her BLOG and sign up to receive her weekly posts by e-mail.  

Sandie leads a team of writers in creating the Living It Out daily Bible study for CedarCreek Church. Today's devotion is borrowed from the Living It Out study on the role of God's Word in our daily lives. If you enjoyed it, feel free to check out the daily studies by e-mail or audio podcast by clicking HERE.



1 comments:

Nicole said...

Well said, Sandie. The concern for me is always the fullness of His love. It's not without discipline - as in anyting goes if I'm a Christian, I don't have to judge my own actions to make sure they line up with the Lord's desires, Truth doesn't trump "feelings", etc. You know what I mean? This namby pamby fluff love some so-called Christians purport is not God's Love.