The way we treat and relate to each other is very close to God’s heart. It’s a topic that Jesus, Paul and the other apostles come back to time and again, which is, after all, why there are 50 ‘one another’ commands in the New Testament.
It all starts with the character of God. God is really, really good. He is amazing. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness. These hardly even scratch the surface of who he is and what he does.
That’s where the commands to love each other come from, out of his heart.
God’s love is never exhausted, tired, resentful, impatient. He is always and forever really, really good.
If you have children, you will know that it gives such joy when they show love to one another, and such pain when they don’t. God’s heart is for all his estranged children who live in our city.
The gospel is attractive when the way we treat and relate to each other reflects the heart of Jesus.
In the passage from Romans 15, the basic fundamental command is:
‘Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God’. Have a soft heart to God and to one another just as God’s heart is full of grace towards you. A heart that is soft echoes God’s own heart and is naturally tuned towards him.
One of the enemy’s primary tactics in our very individualistic age is isolation. In its turn, isolation brings suspicion and fear. In New Testament times the gospel crossed so many rigid social barriers, maybe that’s why there are so many parts about encouraging each other
Sin divides – when Adam and Eve broke their relationship with God, they also broke something with each other, blaming and complaining. The gospel brings relationship back again. We love each other because Jesus loves us, and calls us into covenant community with the Father, which means we are brothers and sisters who share in the one covenant. A community that works well is so attractive.
Have you made up your mind you are in it for the long haul regardless?
Who encourages you, and who do you encourage? Who lives close to you?