In a previous post, we see that God exists in relationship, therefore, we are also created for relationship. Sin caused the image of God in us ruined. Instead of worshiping God, we end up worshiping created things to give us identity (image). When Jesus came to save us, He reconciled us to God and restored our identity. As we draw our identity from God, we are free again to worship (not rebel against) God and love (not worship) others.
John 17: 20-23
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
Matt 22: 37-40
37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Eph 2: 13-16
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
34 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.”
God reconciled us to Himself in Christ Jesus. God’s image in us is restored, we are a new creation, and we can relate to God and love Him freely through our act of worship. However, not only does sin alienate us from God, it also does us from each other. Therefore, in Christ Jesus, we who were alienated from each other have been brought near and have been made one. Jesus Christ has reconciled us to each other. We have a new basis and we have been enabled by Christ to relate to and to love one another. As the children in one family of God, we are now free to love one another.
The gospel community is nothing short of imaging God one to another.
“God made us as persons-in-community to be the vehicle through which he would reveal his glory. … Jesus came to create a people who would model what it means to live under his rule.” – Tim Chester and Steve Timmis.
As God exists eternally in loving relationships, as His people, called by His name, we are also to exist eternally in loving relationships with one another (John 13:34-35). As the Holy Spirit is sanctifying us day by day, we grow in our love toward one another.
Knowing fully that we have been born again into God’s family and that we are members of the body of Christ, Christians therefore are marked with the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23), and embrace the following ‘one another’ practices (taken from Timothy Keller, Gospel in Life, 58-70):
- Affirming one another
- Honoring one another (Romans 12:10)
- Not grumbling against each other (James 5-9)
- Confirming the gifts of one another (Romans 12:3-8)
- Accepting one another just as Christ accepted you (Romans 15:7)
- Having equal concern for each other (1 Cor 12:25)
- Clothing oneself with humility toward one another (1 Peter 5:5)
- Not showing favouritism (James 2:1)
- Greeting one another with a holy kiss (Romans 16:16)
- Being quick to listen, slow to speak (James 1:19)
- Being kind and compassionate to one another (Eph 4:32)
- Increasing and overflowing love for each other (1 Thess 3:12)
- Sharing with one another
- Being devoted to one another in brotherly love (Romans 12:10)
- Offering hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9)
- Doing good as we have opportunity (Gal 6:10)
- Carrying each other’s burdens (Gal 6:2)
- Encouraging one another (1 Thess 5:11) – daily (Heb 3:13)
- Teaching and admonishing one another (Col 3:16)
- Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Eph 5:19)
- Living in harmony with one another (Rom 12:16)
- Agreeing with one another (1 Cor 1:10)
- Serving one another
- Confessing your sins to each other and praying for each other (James 5:16)
- Instructing one another (Rom 15:14)
- Speaking truthfully to one another (Eph 4:25)
- Bearing with one another in live (Eph 4:2)
- Forgiving one another (Col 3:13)
- Not provoking or envying one another (Gal 5:26)
- Not slandering one another (James 4:11)
- Re-establishing broken relationships with one another (Matt 5:23-24; 18:15)
- Spurring one another on toward love and good deeds (Heb 10:24)
- Pleasing others (Rom 15:1-2)
- Serving one another (Gal 5:13)
- Giving without expecting anything in return (Luke 6:30)
- Loving your enemies (Luke 6:35)
They are pretty high standards, I know. That’s exactly why we need God’s strength daily, and we need to remind ourselves everyday who we are in Christ. We are redeemed, purchased, and therefore the life we live is not our own anymore, but Christ living in me. We are to offer every part of our being to God as living sacrifice. Not that God will burn our body on the altar physically, but our body is to be used to glorify God, and one such way is to love one another with the kind of love that is out of this world.
Jesus said in John 13:35 that everyone will know that we are indeed Jesus’ disciples when we love one another. Not with the kind of love where you give expecting returns, where you help when convenient, or where you are kind to those who are kind to you. We are to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, do good to those who can never do good to us, and go an extra mile to help others. Why? It’s not so that we look good and people will praise us. It is so that people will see us and can only conclude that the good works are all from God, and hence if they are to praise someone, it must be God.
The intensity of our love to one another and the quality of our gospel community reflect the Gospel. So, when we choose to love or not to love, it says something about our identity, and ultimately, it says something about God and His love. So, worship God, love others, and proclaim the Gospel with both words and deeds.
- The Marks of Spiritual Maturity
- The Marks of Spiritual Maturity – Identity
- The Marks of Spiritual Maturity – Worship