Now we will attempt to answer the questions raised in the previous devotional and particularly, “What is distinctive about genuine Christianity?” In order to achieve that goal, we need to consider the character and characteristics of the Early Church.
THE EARLY CHRISTIANS SPECIALIZED IN BROTHERLINESS…
Simply, they out loved their pagan neighbors. They specialized in love for one another. In John 13:34-35, we read, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” In John 15:12, Jesus said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” And in John 15:17, He said, “This is my command: Love each other.”
The Master Lover of All Time had taught them. He who is love taught them about love! How are we to distinguish a Christian from a person who is not? “…if you have love one for another.” There is no more powerful influence in the world than genuine love.
In 1 Thessalonians 3:12, this is exemplified, “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and everyone else, just as ours does for you.” Then in 1 Thessalonians 4:9, Paul clarifies,” Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.” That is the theme of the entire New Testament.
In Hebrews 13:1 the apostle Paul enjoins them to “let brotherly love continue.” In 1 John 3:14-15, the apostle John gives a powerful definition. He says, “We know that we have passed from death to life because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.” Could anything be clearer?
Love drew people to Jesus and still does!
Additionally, They loved the outsiders as well. If you reread vv. 43-44 of our text, you realize how important loving others is to God. In Matthew 19:19 the LORD instructs us to love our neighbors as ourselves and it is repeated in Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31; Romans 13:9; and Galatians 5:14. In Romans 13:10 we read, “Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, “love is the fulfillment of the law.” That is incredible!
Love bridged and bridges the gap. Our world today is deeply divided or fragmented. We are separated by seemingly impassable chasms of ideology, bias, and prejudice. In Jesus’ day, the world was equally if not more divided, but those followers of Jesus bridged those chasms through their demonstrated love!
They bridged the gap between men or people, between ethnicities, and between social classes. They loved every human soul and demonstrably manifested that love. It was not flowery words but actions that demonstrated their love.
I need to continue this a bit further but will pause here and pick this up in the next devotional. Until then, may the blessings of the LORD be yours and the peace of God overshadow you. Have a wonderful day!