“Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Do you know what I remember about the very first church service I was in, over twenty years ago? I DON’T remember the name of the pastor or what he preached on. I DON’T remember the names of any of the songs we sang, or even what kind of instruments were played in the service. But the one thing I DO remember about my first encounter in a church is the love and acceptance that the people of God there showed to me. Everyone is looking for love and acceptance. I remember what it was like before I became a Christian. I would go to bars and parties – not to get drunk – but because I was looking for love… in all the wrong places.
The Bible says, “We know what real love is because Christ gave up his life for us. And so we also ought to give up our lives for our Christian brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:16). Jesus was known as the friend of sinners, and we are called to follow His example. As Jerry Cook puts it, “When love, acceptance and forgiveness prevail, the church of Jesus Christ becomes what Jesus was in the world: a center of love designed for the healing of broken people and a force for God.” (Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness). How do we do this? We need to make a commitment to love, acceptance and forgiveness. Our motto as followers of Jesus Christ needs to be, “If you come around here, we’re going to love you – unconditionally, always, and under every circumstance.”
1. LOVE ONE ANOTHER:
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35).
Jesus has commanded us to love each other with the same kind of love that He has loved us. What kind of love is that? “I command you to love each other in the same way that I love you. And here is how to measure it – the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends.” (John 15:12-13). Let’s be willing to lay down our lives for one another, and show each other love in very real and tangible ways, every day.
2. ACCEPT AND FORGIVE ONE ANOTHER:
“Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (Colossians 3:12-13).
Not only do we need to love each other, but God also wants us to accept and forgive each other. “Love means accepting people the way they are for Jesus’ sake. Jesus hung around with sinners and if we’re too holy to allow people to blow smoke in our faces, then we’re holier than Jesus was. He didn’t isolate Himself in the synagogue.” (Jerry Cook). “Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions.” (1 John 3:18).
Will you do me a favour? Show love to someone today. Do something kind. Be gentle and patient. Accept everyone. If you’ve been holding a grudge against someone, forgive them. Show people love today by your actions – and let Jesus shine through you.
Pastor Chris Jordan