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The Price of Reconciliation and Becoming Our Brother’s Keeper

Love God and Love Neighbor

Friday morning, Grace To You’s Darrell Harrison tweeted on the topic of reconciliation.  I’ll share the tweet below, but to summarize, he says that Christ’s death allows us to be reconciled not only with God but also with our brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Here is the tweet:

I thought this topic was worth writing about.  Saturday’s entry in Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost For His Highest was about loving one another. 

Human history began with one brother murdering the other.  As we move past Genesis, the evil of humanity is proven over and over again.  We continually fail to uphold God’s law, which is summed up in the greatest commandment and the one that is like it: Love God and Love Neighbor.  But Christ did it all.  And by grace through faith, we become more and more like the Savior that saved us.  That inevitably comes with the desire and the effort to be made right with each other.  It’s affirmed repeatedly in scripture. 

  • Acts 4:32 All the believers were one in heart and mind…they shared everything that had. 
  • Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 
  • Romans 14:1 Accept him whose faith is weak.
  • Romans 15:1 Bear with the failings of the weak.
  • Romans 15:2 build up our neighbor.
  • Romans 15:7 Accept one another, just as Christ has accepted us.
  • 2nd Corinthians 2:4 Paul wrote to the Corinthians out of great distress and aguish because of the depth of his love for them.
  • 2nd Corinthians 2:8 reaffirm your love for him (the repentant brother).
  • Galatians 6:1-2 restore the brother gently. Carry each other’s burdens. 
  • Galatians 6:10 let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. 
  • Ephesians 3:6 we are members of one body.
  • Ephesians 4:2 bearing with one another in love.
  • Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.
  • Ephesians 6: 18 always keep praying for all the saints. 
  • Philippians 1:9 this is my prayer, that your love may abound more and more.
  • Colossians 3: 13-14 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against the other. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 
  • Colossians 3:16 let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another.
  • 1st Thessalonians 2:8 We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you have become so dear to us. 
  • 1st Thessalonians 4:9-10 Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other…Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more. 
  • 1st Thessalonians 5:11 therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 
  • 2nd Thessalonians: 2:13 Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother. 
  • Philemon 1:8-9 Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I appeal to you on the basis of love. 
  • Hebrews 10:24 Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
  • Hebrews 13:1 Keep on loving each other as brothers.
  • James 5:16 therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
  • James 5:19-20 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. 
  • 1st Peter 1:22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. 
  • 1st Peter 3:8 live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 
  • 2nd Peter 1:5 Make every effort to add to your faith…brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness, love. 
  • 1st John 2:9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light. 

As is usually the case, the frequency of a command in scripture does not translate into its perfect application by believers. 

I grew up in the church and in Christian schools.  I saw myself and fellow believers fail to honor each other above ourselves.  I saw selfishness trample over any desire to love one another with brotherly affection.  

I think what happens is that you end up taking for granted the identity of your brothers and sisters in Christ.  We ended up behaving like the world because believing was the status quo. 

Only when we remember the cross and the world without it can we begin to again appreciate our brothers and sisters in Christ.  It wasn’t until I left a constantly Christian environment that I was able to see that failure.  It wasn’t until I met professors and friends who exuded genuine Christlikeness that I was able to see a way forward (plus studying scripture of course). It’s taken me a long time to get this right.  But we mature.  We are progressively brought closer and closer to Christ’s likeness.

Oswald Chambers says, 

The first thing God does is forcibly remove any insincerity, pride, and vanity from my life. And the Holy Spirit reveals to me that God loved me not because I was lovable, but because it was His nature to do so. Now He commands me to show the same love to others by saying, “…love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). He is saying, “I will bring a number of people around you whom you cannot respect, but you must exhibit My love to them, just as I have exhibited it to you… “The Lord…is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish…” (2 Peter 3:9). I should look within and remember how wonderfully He has dealt with me. The knowledge that God has loved me beyond all limits will compel me to go into the world to love others in the same way. I may get irritated because I have to live with an unusually difficult person. But just think how disagreeable I have been with God!

Some want to love others in an attempt to “live in the way of Jesus,” as if Jesus were just a good example to follow.  But moralism is not the basis for the Christian walk.  

Here is Darrell Harrison’s tweet again, “The reconciliation achieved by the atoning work of Christ on the cross brings us into: 1) a right relationship with God, and 2) a right relationship with each other. It is an accord that is a present-day reality. Our problem is that we refuse to live in light of that certitude.”

It’s not our efforts.  It’s not whatever concept we have of love.  It’s not our own need or desire to grow friendships, to save friendships, or to make new ones.  We love our brothers because of the cross. 

And that last sentence from Chambers is the key. It’s the sentiment expressed in Ephesians, I have a duty to forgive my brother just as in Christ, God forgave me.  I have a duty to love my brother because God loves me in Christ Jesus. 

Sometimes it is painful trying to love others who are in Christ, but the cost of reconciliation has already been paid on the cross.  So we must push on.  

And if we fail, if others fail, if we can’t go back and fix failures from long ago, we remember that reconciliation is not limited to our temporal existence.  Friendships, and even open hostility, will be healed in eternity. 

Imagine Paul meeting Stephen in heaven.  Jesus bought that reconciliation. 

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