Monday, July 29, 2013

Growing in Christ Part 16

When we pursue and attain godliness we are in a constant state of obedience. With the attainment of godliness man realizes God not only demands reverence, obedience and submission He is worthy of these things in perpetuity.

Unlike man, God does not demand that which He does not deserve or is entitled to. I’ve met men who insisted on being called by their title even though their title was only honorary. I have likewise met men who expected you to have a sense of awe upon meeting them just because in their minds they were of greater stature than they truly were.

When God demands a thing of us it is because He is worthy of it, entitled to it, and deserving of it.

After the building block of godliness is placed upon our spiritual foundation, aiding to build our spiritual home, Peter encourages us to add to godliness brotherly kindness.

The Greek word for brotherly kindness, or literally translated ‘love of brothers’ is Philadelphia.

Since nothing is accidental or gratuitous in God’s Word, as I was outlining this teaching I couldn’t help but make the connection between Philadelphia, the Greek word for brotherly love, and the fact that the church at Philadelphia was one of two to not receive any rebuke among the seven churches of Revelation.

Could there be a connection between possessing brotherly kindness and being in the will of God? Could we go one step further and say that without brotherly kindness, without love for the brethren we cannot truly know God?

Yes, I realize this seems like a bold claim, but as long as we allow the Word to have the final word, we will see that it’s not such a bold claim after all.

1 John 4:7-8, “Beloved let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

1 John 4:20-21, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.”

There are surprising amounts of excuses we can come up with as individuals for not loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. What so many fail to see or realize is that if they are born again, redeemed, and sanctified, that person we are trying to avoid because we don’t like the way they dress, the way they speak, the cologne they wear, or their penchant for ornate headwear, is no longer a strange individual but a member of the body of Christ. What we are in fact doing when we hate a brother or sister in Christ for some arbitrary reason or some perceived slight is hating a member of Christ’s body. This is the reason a man cannot love God and hate his brother, because one cannot love and hate a person or a thing simultaneously.

When I claim to love God but hate my brother, all I am doing is speaking a lie, giving God lip service, because my heart is divided, and I am unwilling to lay aside my personal feelings or my personal opinions for the benefit of the body of Christ.

‘But what if I think they are wrong?’

Well, then approach them Biblically, and make sure they are wrong not because you say so, or because you deem it to be so, but because they Bible contradicts their claims or assertions.

We cannot take a personal preference and spin it into gospel. We cannot take a personal conviction and make doctrine of it for everyone to follow on pain of death.

It is because we think ourselves Pharisees reborn that there is so much confusion within the household of faith, and why so many are struggling with new and burdensome rules and regulations placed upon them by others within the congregation even though the Bible makes no mention of such things.

Since Pharisees will persist in attempting to exact control over others, one new regulation leads to ten, until those struggling under the weight of it all begin to grow bitter toward God, the brethren, and the household of faith alike. What was once love and a sincere desire to serve God and the family of God turns into a simmering hatred all because self-appointed busybodies decided to assert their imaginary authority rather than be content with being a member of the body of Christ.

If I truly love my brother I will not attempt to make him struggle or suffer unnecessarily. If I truly love my brother I will not lay upon him such weight that it crushes him into the dirt. If I truly love my brother I will not kick him when he stumbles, I will not mock him when he weeps, I will not feel superior to him when he is struggling, but I will be there doing my utmost to reach out, to raise up, to help, to aid in moving forward, because if one member of a body is hurting, the whole body should be hurting, and doing its utmost to heal that broken member, that hurting part for the wellbeing of the whole.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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