|Love One Another|
Full Faith! (5)
Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers…Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all…
Back in the 60s, when the Age of Aquarius was still trying to be born, pop singers pled with their audiences to help build a more loving world. “All you need is love,” the Beatles insisted. “What the world needs now is love, sweet love,” another artist intoned. Of course, the world did not become a more loving place, all that schmaltzy music notwithstanding. Pop music today doesn’t sing much of a world of love; its focus is more individual, sensual, and debased. If we can’t have a world of love, then let’s just get whatever we can while we can. That seems to be the sentiment pervading much of contemporary life and culture.
But the world still knows that love is the answer. It just doesn’t have any answers for how to make love happen. Francis Schaeffer wrote that love is the quintessential mark of Christian faith, the evidence of full faith in full flower. He was right, of course. The writer of Hebrews therefore reminds us that we cannot rightly worship God without also loving our neighbors as ourselves. Full faith, faith that practices unseen realities, will issue in love.
Note the different targets toward whom the believer is to focus his love. First, to fellow Christians: “Let brotherly love continue.” Some of us might want to ask, “When did it ever begin?” Do the people in your church seem genuinely to love one another? Do they even know one another? And what about the other churches in town? Does the love of Christ connect the congregations in your community in an ongoing effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3)? Probably not. But love toward our fellow believers is the starting point for a life of love. If we cannot love those who share our faith in Jesus, how will we ever find a way to love the last, the least, and lost among us?
Second, the writer urges love toward perfect strangers – the girl at the checkout counter, the clerk at the post office, the fellow in line behind you, new neighbors on your street. Hospitality is not just a discipline we practice in our home. Wherever we encounter strangers, they need to experience the sense of integrity, worth, and value that we acknowledge in them as image-bearers of God.
Next, the outcasts of society – prisoners and those who are mistreated in one way or another. This is a large category of people who deserve the love of the Christian community, including the poor, those who are abused or abandoned, believers persecuted for their faith in other countries, people who are taken advantage of by their employers or co-laborers. Justice and love require that we exercise the faith of Jesus in showing concern for and relieving the plight of those who suffer in various ways.
Finally, we need to practice love in our homes, beginning with our spouses. Here I’m sure we could all use a refresher course on showing the love of Christ to those closest to us. If we honor our marriages and the families that derive from them, we will work hard to make the love of Christ the foundational principle and constant atmosphere of our homes.
Love requires that we do good and share with others (v. 16), for this is pleasing to God and part of the evidence of full faith at work in our lives. Make love your aim, and aim it wherever you can.Start your own ViewPoint discussion group. This week’s series is available in a free downloadable format, suitable for personal or group study. Download the series, "VP Full Faith".
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.