the weblog of Alan Knox

Love and Unity

Posted by on Oct 23, 2007 in love, unity | 13 comments

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus turned our thinking about love upside down:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

Apparently, if we only love those who love us, we should know longer consider that “love”.

I wonder if this same logic can be applied to unity. If we are only united with those who want to unite with us, are we truly united? If we are only united with those who believe like us, are we really united? Or, is our version of unity – uniting with those who are like us – simply what the “tax collectors” and the “Gentiles” would do?


13 Comments

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  1. 10-23-2007

    Well, duh!

  2. 10-23-2007

    Pardon the brevity.

    I’d just like it if you’d rewrite your last paragraph without the “I wonder. . .” stuff. Take a stand, man!

  3. 10-23-2007

    Alan,

    When I was a child I had four sisters. We were the product of the same parents. In that sense we had unity, but we didn’t always have unanimity. The lack of unanimity did not affect our unity, even though, at times, onlookers may have thought we were enemies.

    Every child of God is the spiritually new born child of the same Father. Unity is already there because we have the same parentage,outworked by the same Spirit, bought by the same Saviour. unanimity escapes us because of our sinfulness. Onlookers could hardly believe we had the same Father.

    When we stop looking for what we already have and live the one anothers, the unity will become obvious for all to see. Logic would demand that we ask the question, “How can we love our enemies when we don’t love one another?”.

  4. 10-23-2007

    David,

    I use questions and “wonderings” in my posts to get people to think. Unity is one issue that I do take stand on, especially since we are told to stay away from those who are divisive.

    Aussie John,

    I believe that all God’s children are united in Christ. Of course, we have to walk “in Christ” in order to maintain that unity.

    -Alan

  5. 10-23-2007

    On unity, I agree. One of the things I hate to see is the “republican church” vs. the “democrat church”.

    We as Christians need to be united.

  6. 10-24-2007

    Phenomenal blog. I’ve become a fan recently and I think you for sharing what God is showing you. I copied and linked your blog via my facebook. Thanks again.

    Jason vaughn

  7. 10-24-2007

    Jason,

    Welcome to my blog! Please use whatever you like from my blog. Also, look me up on Facebook. Here’s a link to my profile.

    -Alan

  8. 10-24-2007

    I don’t mean to belabor my point from my comments in your “Pick and Choose?” post, so I’ll try to be brief on this one point: If I’m to stay consistent with my own hermeneutics in the passage you quoted here, along with the entire sermon on the mount, then I’d say that if you follow Jesus’ “logic” all the way through, then the culmination of Jesus’ point is “therefore you must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

    In other words, if we’re going to try to “apply” Jesus’ words here about loving your neighbor, loving your enemies, loving those who love you and loving those who persecute you, then it involves nothing less than “being perfect.” I don’t know about you, but I think Jesus is asking for the impossible.

    Jesus is magnifying the Old Covenant, as my eyes see it. The ‘top two’ Old Covenant laws are “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength” and “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” In other words, you must be perfect.

    Magnifying the Old Covenant in such a way is, I believe, the ultimate way of showing how it is a “tutor” that shows man their depravity and leads them “to” Christ. Once a person is in Christ, isn’t the tutor’s job done? Shouldn’t we begin growing in Christ, not through trying to follow the logic of any Old Covenant principles, but through a new and living way that involves the very Life of Christ living in and through us?

    I realize my hermeneutics aren’t in line with everyone else who reads this (and maybe with no one else), but I’ll just go for broke and say that I think we’re trying to catch the wind in our hands when we take this section of scripture as directions for living the Christian life.

  9. 10-24-2007

    I think David (the David in the Bible) had some good words in Psalm 133: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”

    And sure, this will definitely happen if people who don’t agree with each other and don’t believe the same things still love each other.

    The question, however, is “how” does that happen? Does it happen simply by trying to follow some biblical mandate to love others? Is it really “love” if we’re simply following a mandate?

    Ok, I’m really trying to be brief (which is often hard for me!) so I’ll just say that I believe the way to truly love others and to truly have unity in the body, is not through following the “logic” of a commandment. I may be coming across as disagreeable here, but I don’t intend to. I really hope to offer up what I’ve found to be true in my walk with Jesus. Once I gave up “trying” to follow commands and mandates, and simply began getting to know the Person, Jesus, intimately, I found my love growing as I understood His love for me more and more. Love is not logical, at least not as we’re talking about it from a human point of view! It’s only something that comes from knowing intimately the One who “is” love.

    Thanks for letting me share. Your posts are always full of great words, and it’s always stuff that gets me to thinking. (Too much, sometimes). Haha!

  10. 10-24-2007

    Joel,

    I think I understand what you are saying, and I agree. If we determine that we are not loving or not united as we should be, we do not correct the problem by trying to make ourselves more loving or more united. The problem is that we are not relying on Christ and abiding in him.

    -Alan

  11. 10-25-2007

    Alan,

    Joel. Exactly!

    I repeat what I said earlier,”When we stop looking for what we already have and live the one anothers, the unity will become obvious for all to see.”

    We need to learn what we already ARE in Christ.

  12. 10-27-2007

    Hi Alan,

    Yep, that’s essentially the gist of what I was saying. I don’t believe life in Christ is about ‘trying harder’ to become more loving or to live in greater unity with others, but is more along the lines of living “from” the new creation that we already are.

    This does, I believe, involve a growing process. To tie my thoughts together with what Aussie John said, we already have the love of God in us and we are already one with God and with one another, through the Spirit. Rather than always focusing on where we think we’re lacking (performance-wise) and then trying to ‘improve,’ which all too often is really a focus on the flesh, we instead set our minds on things above, abiding in Christ through fully trusting His life in us. As we grow in this, the Spirit’s fruit eventually flows more naturally I think.

  13. 10-27-2007

    Aussie John and Joel,

    Unity, love, joy, peace, etc. only come through our life in the Spirit. If they are not present in our life, the only way to see them demonstrated is by turning again toward abiding in Christ – living in the Spirit.

    -Alan