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2-loveoneanother

Love One Another

2-loveoneanother

“Above all, love each other deeply” (1 Peter 4:8)

We all have those people in our life that are “difficult to love”. For some reason or another, the “feeling” of love doesn’t come easily. It may be character issues, temperament, or things the other person has done to us. If we’re honest, we’ve all been on both sides of this situation. I know for a fact there have been times in our marriage that it was difficult for Laura to love me. Thankfully though, her love for me is rooted in something much deeper than feeling.

According to Peter, loving each other is essential to our walk with God. Above everything else, we are called to “maintain an intense love for each other”. This emphasis on love echoes many other verses in the Bible, including the well-known 1 Corinthians 13. In fact, the bible goes so far to say that love must be the basis of all our acts of service. For without it, it will profit no one.

The word “love” in these verses is translated in the greek as “agape”. When the Bible says that “God is love”, this is the definition being used. This is not a love that comes naturally to us (like family, friendship, or romantic loves). Agape love has divine origin. It is unmerited, unconditional and redemptive. It seeks nothing in return.

This is the same love we received from God himself (John 3:16). As we receive this love from God, we are filled to show the same love to others. Peter goes on to say that this type of love “covers over a multitude of sins”. It is love that has the ability to redeem and restore. It’s not easy (we always prefer to love when it “feels natural”)—but this type of love is what matters most.

So as we ponder what it means to love each other, may we consider first God’s incredible agape love for us. May His love motivate us to love others without seeking anything in return. May this type of love strengthen our marriages, families and friendships. And may we pursue this love more than anything else. For we know that in the end, ‘the only thing that matters.. is faith expressing itself through (agape) love.” (Galatians 5:6)

Contributed by Jason Van Dyke, God’s Fingerprints

When-We-Take-our-Families-for-Granted

When We Take our Families for Granted

Recently, I started watching an exciting Korean drama, “School 2015: Who Are You”. It tells the story of a pair of orphaned twin girls, Eun-Byeol and Eun-Bi, who were separated at birth. Eun-Byeol is adopted and leads a privileged life in Seoul, complete with trendy clothes and a wide circle of friends. Eun-Bi stays in an orphanage, looks after many younger children, and is viciously bullied by a group of girls in school.

In one episode, Eun-Bi loses her memories after an accident. At the same time, Eun-Byeol mysteriously disappears on a school field trip. Eun-Bi somehow finds herself being mistaken for her sister, and lives her sister’s life.

As Eun-Bi enjoys the attention and care she has never experienced, her “mother” expresses surprise at her daughter’s displays of affection, as Eun-Byeol had never been so affectionate nor grateful for her concern.

Watching the contrasting responses of the two girls towards the family made me think about family dynamics and how we sometimes take our family members for granted. More often than not, I find myself being much more pleasant to my friends than to my family. At home, my first instinct is not to give in to others. Upon some reflection, I realize that part of the reason why I am nastier at home is that I know my mum will not leave or abandon me, no matter how rude or disrespectful I am to her.

I began to ask myself if I was doing the same thing to people in church. Was I hanging out with a particular group of friends because I knew they would stay with me even when I was mean to them? Was I taking them for granted because I knew they would never leave me?

Family units are hard to build, and those of us blessed with good families tend to forget the grace and mercy we are shown every day. Perhaps if we were to see the true blessing of our families, it would inspire us not to take our church or fellowship communities for granted.

The Family of God

A few years back, a new girl joined my cell group. She was keen to learn more about Jesus and attended our cell group regularly. But as my cell group cracked our inside jokes, recited basic Christian facts that we assumed everyone knew (who parted the Red Sea, what was the shortest verse in the Bible etc.), and used Christian jargon (‘surrender to God’, ‘be in Jesus’, ‘PTL’) she slowly grew discouraged and eventually left our group. The day she left was a wake-up call. Why were we so careless with God’s beloved family?

This got me thinking. When it comes to new members in the family, do we go out of our way to include them and help them be a lasting part of the body?

The family of God is important, and God desires that we care for them like we care for our own sisters and brothers. Our earthly families give us a glimpse of the eternal family we will have in Christ. And just as earthly families are non-negotiable and non-exchangeable, who gets to be part of the family of God is not in our hands. So let us work towards making the family of God more and more like a household of the heavenly, infinitely loving Father.

“so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” – Romans 12:5