Love One Another; Deleted Scenes

I preached a sermon in mid-August called, "Love One Another." I wasn't able to get all of my thoughts in so here are some that didn't make the cut...

I started my sermon by reflecting on the text in 2 Corinthians 6:11-13We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. As a fair exchange-- I speak as to my children-- open wide your hearts also” I commented on this odd emotional non-response that Paul received from this church he had planted.

This got me thinking about an often-ignored aspect of our spiritual lives: emotional health. We – especially in our movement – are very willing to acknowledge that we need to grow in -
  • obedience – we need to act with discipline and self-control
  • rational processes – we need to think clearly
  • faith – to use our capacity for hope and future thinking to see what God will do
BUT we are suspicious of issues of the heart. Even though we really appreciate other believers who are emotionally mature and healthy, we have seen so many abuses of “emotionalism” and get a bit skittish when we talk about emotional expressions in the Christian life. We don’t like to talk about this stuff and we don’t know how to talk with each other about each other’s emotional health, and even more to the point, growth. Yes, it seems to me that we should be helping each other to grow emotionally.
As to loving each other, there are three kinds of love that we can express in the church. No, these don’t relate to the three Greek words; these are ideas about loving each other:
  • Justice – doing love in our community and society
  • Truth – caring enough for somebody to tell them the truth
  • Grace – usually what we over-emphasize: giving people a break, avoiding confrontation
- when we emphasize one of these to the exclusion of the other two, we get into trouble
I was thinking about how we can love each other in very pragmatic ways and thought of 1 John 3:17-18If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” It occurs to me that James and John (especially in 1John where he hammers in the idea that we must love our brothers) are completely synched-up on this; it makes one wonder if they ever sat down over a coffee and shared their concern for pastoral compassion ministry…
Valuing our “Community”
One of the hit TV series of the ‘90’s and new millennium was “Friends;” before that, it was “Cheers” (trading alcohol for caffeine). As our society and families break down, we have looked for a new sense of belonging, group, affiliation, and friends. Americans have famously been called, “a nation of joiners.” As much as we talk about ‘rugged individualism,’ we like coming together. And if this is true for Americans, the most individualist culture on the planet, it is even more true for the rest of the world: humans are social beings.
One of the things we sometimes forget to appreciate is that when we are converted, not only do we get a new heart that now wants to please God and live in obedience to him, but we also enter into a new community of spiritual brothers and sisters, the church: especially the local church – an assembly of other Christians who want to please God and live in obedience to him
Conflict is one of the barriers to loving each other. It prevents love – puts a cap on it. Conflict among believers is so important that Jesus and Paul spend significant time on it in Matthew 5, Matthew 18, and 1Corinthians 6 – as well as several other shorter sections of scripture. Most Christian conflict resolution occurs through the common-sense application of these scriptures. Some of you in this room need to take these scriptures seriously and attempt reconciliation with your brothers or sisters: not that you will achieve it, but you must – in so far as it depends on you – live at peace with all men

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