Daily Devotion Thursday, November 12, 2015
This week our daily devotions will be reflecting on the vision of my church, which is "To Know Jesus & Show Jesus"--a vision that was outlined in last week's sermon entitled, "Knowing & Showing: What It Means To Be Us" Every day this week we'll be focusing on our five core values (Worship, Pray, Grow, Love and Serve)--values that enable us to pursue our vision. If you would like to read the transcript of the sermon, click HERE.
Today we are going to spend some time thinking about the fourth core value of my church: Love.
The ancient church father Tertullian wrote something amazing about the early Christians capacity to show love to one another. He quoted non-Christians, pagans, who said of the early Church:
"See how [these Christians] love one another (for they themselves hated one another), and how they are ready to die for one another (for they themselves are readier to kill each other)?"
I wonder if those kinds of words can be said of the Church today. Probably not. I think Tertulllian would have to amend his quote a tad to sound something like this:
"See how [these Christians] fight with one another, and how they are always ready to call each other names, and discredit one another because they can't agree on anything?"
Jesus spent a great deal of time and energy conveying to his followers just how important it was to him that they love one another. "Love one another," he told them, "as I have loved you." The love that Jesus was talking about was the kind of unconditional, sacrificial love that would bring him to the cross.
The ancient Church led by the Apostles wasn't without it's problems, to be sure. But we find in the book of Acts that everyone who encountered those early Christians came away amazed. Mostly because they took care of one another, and made sure that if "anyone had needs" they were met by others within the community who would sacrifice their own needs for the sake of filling the needs of others.
This kind of model that is exemplified in the book of Acts is one that the Church today would do well to follow. The love that unite us should be far greater than our differences, but when we continue to quibble over our differences we diminish the love and sometimes banish it altogether.
Loving one another as Jesus loves us means that we put the needs--physical, spiritual, emotional--of our brothers and sisters in Christ ahead of our own. It means that we live our life in community in open-handed ways, full of generosity of spirit, joy in our interactions, and humility in our speech.
And if we do this, those who haven't yet embraced Jesus will notice. They will see us living differently, full of grace and peace. And perhaps they will say, "See how these Christians love one another? I want what they have."
May you live this day filled with generosity, joy, grace and peace. May you love one another, giving yourself away to your brothers and sisters so that the world may know the true message of Jesus.