“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people — the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you.” Colossians 1:3-6a
As we ponder the new place we have as a result of our receiving Christ as Lord, we are caught with the fact that there are two motivating forces at work within us immediately. That can cause us some confusion, or outright denial. We know that faith is the vital connector to our Lord, yet we often do not understand that love of those in the church is the second.
There is much wrong with and in the church today, and that has been true throughout her history. However, the love that is given as a result of being in Him is a love for the unlovable and the wrong – within. Since our righteousness is in Christ and Him alone, a person being right or wrong has no relevance in His love for them – therefore can have no relevance in ours. We would automatically think it meant to love the lost and there is a measure of that. But as we read the letters of Paul we find that one of the connectors to the Lord as well as to the Body He loves is love for the people within.
While new believers may find this incredible, eventually we discover that people are people, even though they are saints and faithful and all the good things the Lord gives us as a result of our new birth in Him. We find in Romans 5:5,
“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
We end up loving people we don’t particularly like. We find that one of our empowerments is to love the local body of people with whom we walk. We may have known that we “should” love them, but the empowerment has delivered God’s love into our hearts and we find we do love them – not in word but in deed. We are empowered to love.
This love is, of course, the “agape” love or unconditional love of the Father Himself. It is a love that refuses to remain critical and/or exclusive in our thoughts. It is a love that reaches and includes.
These folk Paul was writing were outstanding in and known for their faith and love for all the Brethren. What awesome things to be recognized. I wonder if any of them were by nature introverts and found themselves loving people they did not even know, greeting them, and spending time blessing them? When we begin to grasp the empowerment the Lord has given to us, much changes within. I remain an introvert. However, others would not even know that as I greet a room of believers (or unbelievers) and love as appropriately as I can. As He grows us in His love, so much that mattered before no longer is relevant. What becomes important is trusting our Jesus and loving Him by making certain others know the same faith and the same love as we include them and begin to express Him. This is the gospel revealed in the flesh.
Scripture Passages are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version NIV.