Relationships in Christ’s Church
October 18, 2020
While the Bible is a big book, we sometimes forget the simplicity and conciseness of its teaching. It is a big book, but the overall message is not complicated. When I share the gospel I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone say, “wait a minute — that’s really complicated, can you explain it again?” But they have frequently said, “that’s really simple…I’d be a fool not to believe…”
As we think about relationships within the context of the church, which is Paul’s topic in Romans 12 after explaining the spiritual gifts, his explanation also is very simple and clear. He echoes the words of Christ:
- When asked what the greatest OT command was, He said, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” ( 12:28–31).
- When he was leaving a final command with the disciples he said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” ( 13:34–35).
Paul concisely continues that theme in Romans 12:9-11, which we can summarize this way:
The defining attribute of our relationships is love.
Whatever else we say about our relationships, they cannot be anything less than loving. While I want to be careful about making absolute statements, it seems that Christ, Paul, and the other NT writers cannot be more clear: the most essential part of our fellowship is that we love each another.
In God’s grace, that has been one of the marks of our church body for many years. It was part of my prayer for this church before I even came as a pastor; and it has been part of my prayer for this church all the years that I have been here. And the Lord has been kind to allow us to maintain and grow in love for one another. But just as a husband and wife cannot grow complacent in their love and they must always be working to cultivate and grow in their love for each other, so that must also be a mark of the church body. Particularly with so many differences of opinion on preferential/wisdom issues, we need to love: for whom will we vote? Masks or no masks? Traditional or holistic medicine? Home, private, or public school?…
So Paul says in 1 Thessalonians, “Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more…” (1 Thess. 4:9–10).
That’s our call this morning, and Paul provides us with four qualities to guide our love in the church body:
- Let Love Define Your Relationships (v. 9a)
- Let Your Love be Genuine (v. 9b)
- Let Your Love be for One Another (v. 10)
- Let Your Love be Persistent (v. 11)
Download the rest of this sermon on Romans 12:9-11.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.