At Cornerstone, we continue to study through John’s first epistle. This letter is filled with examinations, building a comparison between believers and nonbelievers. John gives numerous tests to allow the church to examine not only themselves but those around them to help determine who is of God and who isn’t. John doesn’t offer any middle ground on this. You are either of God or you’re not. Though there are numerous examples given, one of the themes that stands out is that of love. In 1 John 3:11-18, John focuses on love for the brothers, that is, love for fellow believers. He uses two examples in this section: Cain, who did not love his brother, taking his life and Jesus Christ, who loved His brothers, laying down His life for us.
Love being a characteristic of Christians isn’t anything new. This theme is seen heavily in the New Testament, but also throughout the entirety of Scripture. Love is such a prevailing characteristic of the Christian, that the world outside the Church expects it and when love isn’t demonstrated within the Church, it seems to hurt more than it does when it comes from outside the Church. When we experience church hurt, it makes it that much harder to love because it is so unexpected. We expect the world to hurt us, not those within the body of Christ. As a pastor, this kind of hurt weighs on me. I’ve been on the receiving end of church hurt. Though it hurt, I’ve continued on in ministry, vowing to not be the cause of such reckless behavior. I’ve heard other stories where someone experienced church hurt and has not set foot in a church since. We have to remember that those within the Church will sin, just like those outside the Church.
So what are we to do?
For the complete column, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard