Love or Love
Memorable Moments Hebrews
John 13:34 ESV
I Corinthians 13:4 (love is patient and kind)
Hebrews 13:1-2 ESV
As I started to pray about writing this lesson on love I realized my throat tightened and my forehead felt tense.
The reaction was immediate.
So…I stopped and thought about why my body and my brain reacted with some level of fear. I’m not talking about actually being afraid, it’s more like the fear we experience when it’s dark and we wonder what lurks behind the door.
After pondering it I think my angst stems from a lifetime of memories of what I’ve seen in the church when it comes to love in general or loving others specifically.
Before we go any further we need to think about loving one another and brotherly love. We need look deeper into the original definition of love in each verse.
In John 13:34 we are told, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
The word for love in John 13:34 in the Koine Greek is agapate and it means you should or shall care for each other. According to the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 13:4 love means being patient and kind to others.
In Hebrews 13:1-2 we read, “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.“
The word in the Greek for brotherly love is philadelphia. That word means brotherly love.
The difference between agapate love and Philadelphia love is expansive. Loving one another generally speaks to a genuine hospitable kind of love. Philadelphia love speaks specifically to loving another person in the same way you love a brother that you look up to and admire.
What I’ve noticed in general is that the church often does a pretty good job with being kind, caring, and (sometimes) patient with the folks we see at church (John 13:34 kind of love).
Think of it this way…it’s like family when you go to a big reunion.
On the other hand brotherly love is more like sitting with (and staying with) a brother when he’s going through a rough patch.
I have seen that kind of love in church, but probably not more than 20 or 30 times in my adult life. From where I sit, it seems we are glossing the surface when it comes to that kind of love.
That’s why it seems like what we need to do…what I need to do, what the church needs to do is to get past what we think love means. We need to stop taking it for granted. We need to dig deeper. But in digging deeper we need to come to a point where we are painfully honest.
So, I’ll cut to the chase…
Believers need to have difficult conversations when they disagree with other believers. Their speech needs to contain gut wrenching truth. The problem is that when that kind of truth emerges it’s often difficult to deal with in church.
It’s the kind of anger that humans tend to want to walk away from.
I think that’s what we do in the church, we walk away. We tend to think walking away is for the greater good.
We don’t want to ruffle any feathers.
So instead of being painfully honest and doing the hard work it takes to build a really strong bridge between us and another person (who we really aren’t sure we like), we smile and nod and avoid that person as much as possible.
We often think it’s a win win.
In order for us to get to the point where we experience true brotherly love, we need to take a stand. We need to fight for love.
But it’s not easy.
I have to admit I struggle with the modern day church when it comes to loving one another and brotherly love.
It’s been my experience that it takes a lot of time, energy, and a LOT of prayer in order for us to really get to know another person with that kind of brotherly love.
That’s why I think we need to learn to dig in deep and fight for it. It means you will be truly engaged with others.
It means you will serve and get to know the people you are serving with.
It means you will rely on God and ask God to show you how to really love.
The good news, the really good news is that you’ll not be acting on your own. God will stand with you. The Spirit will be your guide.
When we ask the Spirit to guide us to really love, the a Spirit WILL guide.
We might create a stir; it really could feel uncomfortable because you’re make waves. That’s okay…ask God to cover you.
The truth is, this is a messy world and while the church is not OF the world, it’s IN the world.
Spiritual Practice: Making Waves
Love enough to make waves.
In God, Deborah