Love One Another in the Church

One of the defining characteristics of a Christian is their love. There are many commands to love others. These include a call to love our neighbor (see Matthew 22:37-39 and the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10) and to love those who persecute us (see Matthew 5:44-45).

But the reality is that many (if not most) of the declarations to love others found in the New Testament seem to refer most specifically to the love between believers.

In John 13 Jesus demonstrates servant-leadership by washing the dirty feet of his closest followers. He goes on to command them to demonstrate love to each other, both to emulate Christ but to also demonstrate their faith to the world around them.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
~John 13:34-35

In Paul's letter to the Romans, Paul makes a similar plea. He begins chapter 12 by challenging believers to transform the way they live and to sacrifice themselves for the Gospel. He moves on to challenge the believers to participate with the local church and to use their gifts for the sake of that church. It is in this context that he tells them to be devoted to love one another and to share with other followers of Jesus who are in need.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
~Romans 12:9-13

No doubt we are commanded to love everyone and to give to the needy who live in our communities and around the world. But we also have very specific commands to love other believers and to demonstrate the love of Christ by caring for the needy in our own church.

So what does this look like? Here are some simple ideas:

  • Serve in the local church. If you don't serve regularly on Sunday mornings, consider jumping in to be a part of what God is doing through Northridge. Your service helps us create an environment for believers to be encouraged and challenged. 
  • Serve someone in your community group. Identify a person or a couple in your group who might need some additional love and encouragement. If someone is having a busy season at work, just had a baby, or is going through a tough situations, consider stepping in to demonstrate love -- bring them a meal, send them an anonymous gift, rally your group together to have a "cleaning day" and clean their home or do some yardwork, or offer to babysit their kids so they can have a date night or get some projects done.
Let's be the church as Jesus commanded it to be, where the outside world knows we follow Him because of the way we love one another!