How Can Christians Love One Another Better? (Y1.T2.D53)
If we, as Christians, want to better satisfy the new commandment Jesus gave us on the eve of his crucifixion—"to love one another" (John 13:34)—we need to be less divisive.
Consider what Jesus' prayed for while in the garden:
Not for these [existing disciples] only do I pray, but for those also who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that you sent me. The glory which you have given me, I have given to them; that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and you in me, that they may be perfected into one; that the world may know that you sent me and loved them, even as you loved me. (John 17:20–23)
Imagine you were about to endure hours of torture and had just enough time to ask God to do something for the people you loved. What would you ask of him?
Well, Jesus asked God to help us be united—and not just within our Christian congregation but across all denominational lines.
Remember, Jesus said: "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them" (Luke 6:32). To exercise better unity in the global church, we should strive to love believers who exercise traditions we don't particularly like.
Last trimester I wrote a post about how agreement doesn't equal love. And today I've found some suggestions about finding unity within the body of Christ in an article on the website for Geneva College. Here are a few selected paragraphs:
Appreciating Diversity While Honoring Our Common Need for Christ: Life would be boring if we all looked, thought, or behaved in the exact same manner. What's more, carbon copies would make us vulnerable to illness and other issues. Diversity can strengthen us, even when we view it as a problem. Yes, it can be difficult to handle diversity of thought, but viewed in a different light, it could actually reinforce our personal beliefs.
Look for Signs of Grace — Not Evidence of Sin or Weakness: As a mere human, it's not your job to judge indiscriminately. . . . Instead of hunting for sins in those with whom you disagree, search for signs of grace. . . . If necessary, begin small. For example, your so-called adversaries may demonstrate love for their family members or use polite phrases such as "please" or "thank you." Recognize and appreciate these positive qualities.
Be the First to Try for Reconciliation: Don't wait for somebody else to make peace. If we all took a passive approach to develop unity as Christians, we'd never manage to gather as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Ultimately, everyone who believes in Christ has chosen a life of love—it's what we signed up for. So as we seek to love our fellow Christians better, we should strive to get along with others who have chosen the same faith while walking down a different road.
Jesus Prayed We'd Be One
11 I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them through your name which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are. 12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in your name. I have kept those whom you have given me. None of them is lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I come to you, and I say these things in the world, that they may have my joy made full in themselves. 14 I have given them your word. The world hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that you would take them from the world, but that you would keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, even so I have sent them into the world. 19 For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. 20 Not for these only do I pray, but for those also who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that you sent me. 22 The glory which 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 be perfected into one; that the world may know that you sent me and loved them, even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also whom you have given me be with me where I am, that they may see my glory, which you have given me, for you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 Righteous Father, the world hasn’t known you, but I knew you; and these knew that you sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and will make it known; that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:11–26)
44 He left them again, went away, and prayed a third time, saying the same words. (Matthew 26:44)
1b he went out with his disciples over the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, into which he and his disciples entered. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. (John 18:1b–2)
50a Jesus said to him, “Friend, why are you here?” (Matthew 26:50a)
48 But Jesus said to him, “Judas, do you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:48)
4 Jesus therefore, knowing all the things that were happening to him, went out, and said to them, “Who are you looking for?”
5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
Jesus said to them, “I am he.”
Judas also, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When therefore he said to them, “I am he,” they went backward, and fell to the ground.
7 Again therefore he asked them, “Who are you looking for?”
They said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If therefore you seek me, let these go their way,” 9 that the word might be fulfilled which he spoke, “Of those whom you have given me, I have lost none.” (John 18:4–9)
Help me turn away from those who intentionally cause divisions that are contrary to the doctrine You've taught me (Romans 16:17). I confess I spend more time loving those who love me—like the rest of the world (Matthew 5:46–48)—while you asked me to love beyond that. Please provide me the ability to plant and water knowing You give the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6). Help me speak about the similarities I share with other believers, focusing on being together in the same mind and in the same judgment (1 Corinthians 1:10).
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