Today’s blog, written by Pastor Barry Kang of Symphony Church in Boston, was originally posted on March 8, 2014.
Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend
“Loving Christians as Well”
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
I know Christians who have a passion to share Christ with strangers, but feel ambivalent toward other believers. They show grace and compassion to those who don’t know Jesus, but are highly critical of those of who do know him. Now, this is not entirely wrong since Jesus probably spent more time with publicans and prostitutes (i.e., sinners) than those who considered themselves as righteous before God. On the flip side, Paul tells us that while we are not to judge those outside the church, we are to judge those within the church (1 Corinthians 5:12-13), meaning we are to promote holiness (e.g., sinning less) since God is holy.
However, all of this has to be done in the context of love; otherwise, our witness to the world will be greatly tainted. If we fail to love one another (i.e., other believers and disciples), then the people of the world (e.g., atheists, Muslims, crass materialists) will not know whether we are following Jesus. What would they think of us when they hear us say, “God is love,” but the only thing that they hear and see is us being critical and judgmental of other believers and disciples?
Jesus envisioned his church to be full of disciples who love each other in such a way that their community truly embodies his love for the world. When we are loving one another, accepting one another, being gracious to one another, serving one another, even exhorting one another to follow Jesus (this includes rebuking, of course), then the world will see Christ through us.
The late Joe Aldrich put it this way,
The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians–when they are somber and joyless, when they are self-righteous and smug in complacent consecration, when they are narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths.
Let’s be careful that when we point out self-righteousness and spiritual complacency of other believers, that we do not become “overrighteous” (Eccle. 7:16). Let’s be mindful to ground our comments and actions with respect to other believers in true care and compassion.
Prayer: Father, I thank you that you forgive my sins anew every morning. I thank You that the blood of Jesus covers every one of my sins. Help me to live this day, not in an overrighteous manner, but in the freedom that comes from being forgiven and in a right relationship with you. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 2-3