34 “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.” (NIV)
To know a person is not to be acquainted with them, but to know their heart, understand their motives, and be aware of their behaviors in context with their heart and motive. In a world where we are ‘friends’ with so many people, we don’t know through social media, the art of getting to know someone is passing rapidly. So, in this milieu, how can we know God if we don’t know one another?
God has prescribed a communal existence of believers attempted to live by and in the qualities, values, and behaviors of God Himself as a way for each individual in the community to gain a greater understanding of who God is. We get to know God more deeply in communion with other believers as each of us spur one another on to greater love.
This community we call the church is not full of perfect men and women. There is only one Christ. Instead, we are imperfect, unable to love one another well without the knowledge of God’s love for us. The regular teachings we encounter through church life draws a picture of God’s love for us. We find unconditional love always forgiving yet always correcting back to the Highway of Holiness where fulfillment, fun, and meaning are found. This teaching motivates us to be like Christ. This is easier to do in a community committed to Christlikeness.
When a believer falls short of Christ’s love and engages in betrayal, gossip, vengeance, and the like, there must be those in the community who maintain a posture of forgiveness preceding repentance. It is this posture that stirs the other heart to repentance. Being loved well creates in us a desire to love better also.
God’s intention is for the world to know Him by how well Christians love. The community of believers will never be absent from the vices found in the world. The church ever full of new, immature, and struggling believers will continue to experience the sins of the flesh. But in the church, the mature give grace that requires them to pursue deeper spirituality and spurs others deeper in their own walk to know God and establish His identity.
The church has become shallow in its pursuit of holiness. The same divisions found in secularity pervade in the church as well. We must not fall prey to this shallowness but press further into Him for spiritual formation.
Prayer: Lord, help the church be more like You and help me to seek You more to establish Your identity more in the church. Amen.