Love in the Family of God
Some people look forward to this day, others dread it. Some people are touched by the extra little expressions of affection they may receive from a special someone; others are reminded of the special-someone void in their life. Love it or hate it, Valentine's Day is here.
But rather than let Hallmark and Russell Stover take ownership of the day, why not take the opportunity to express a different kind of love, to a different kind of special someone? You guessed it: I'm talking about the church.
In John 13:34, Jesus gave his disciples a pretty daunting instruction: "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."
Jesus loved others, and he expects us, his followers, to do the same. Here are a few ways that Imprint can strive to embody the love of Jesus in our relationships with each other:
Serve each other. Be on the lookout for something kind you can do for another church member or friend. Pay enough attention to one another's lives that you can see when a need emerges - and then meet it! Practical acts of service communicate, "I value you. I'm willing to sacrifice for you."
Encourage each other. Look for ways someone is growing, serving, or excelling in a role or task, and tell them. A simple "You're doing a great job," can go a long way to strengthening a heart with endurance for the next leg of the journey. In a world saturated with destructive speech, unfair comparisons, and harsh judgments, encouraging speech is very counter-cultural.
Pray for each other. Seriously, actually, literally speak to God on behalf of someone in the church. If you know of a hardship in a church member's life, ask God to help them through it. If you want to serve and encourage someone but aren't sure how, ask God for help! "Lord, please show me how I can encourage my friend ________ this week." A pattern of others-oriented prayer would be a game-changer.
Challenge each other. Know that someone in the church recently made a commitment or set a goal? Ask them how it's going. See a way in which someone in the church is perhaps out of step with the priorities and principles of Christian living? Tell them in love, and gently challenge them toward growth in godliness. This is hard, but extremely valuable. Holding each other to a higher standard is one powerful, tangible way to demonstrate our love for each other.This is hard to do, isn't? Local communities of God's people struggle with upholding this standard, and easily fall into comparison, jealousy, uncharitable judgments, gossip, and unforgiveness. We need to remember that love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22), so it's got to be Him that produces this in us. Let's plead with God to develop this fruit in our church family in increasing measure in the coming weeks and months. Can you imagine the impact that kind of loving community could make? Can you envision the mark it might leave in northeast Baltimore, and beyond?
Happy Valentine's Day, friends.