the weblog of Alan Knox

Love one another… if you have nothing better to do

Posted by on Aug 19, 2008 in love | 16 comments

My heart is heavy tonight. During the last few weeks, we have met several brothers and sisters in Christ who are struggling. Some are struggling financially. Some are struggling with health or emotional problems. Some are struggling with loneliness.

These brothers and sisters in Christ are not “members” of our church, but they are “members” of other local churches. But, from what we have been told, the churches do very little – if anything – to take care of these “members”. They continue to struggle and continue to hurt and continue to be lonely with very little help from their churches.

Now, I’m excited that some of the brothers and sisters who are part of our church are coming along side these hurting people and offering them help. They’ve offered financial assistance, medical assistance, counseling and discipling assistance, shopping assistance, and companionship – and they’ve offered all of this without asking these people to “join” our church.

Here’s what I can’t understand… what happened to love? What happened to Jesus’ statement, “They will know you are my disciples if you have love for one another”? These churches continue to preach this… why don’t they live it?

What happened to John’s statement, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” These churches continue to sing about this… why don’t they live it?

I wish I could say that these were isolated cases, but they are not. I’ve seen this over and over again. Last night, my wife was almost in tears concerning someone who served tireless in their church, but the church has done very little (if anything) to help in their time of need – and, yes, everyone knows about this need.

Honestly, this does not make any sense to me. In the very early days of my blog, I quoted Brethren, Hang Together by Robert C. Girard:

The structure that now ties us together is the structure of personal relationship – to each other, to the group, and to God. If we fail at love, there will be nothing left. But, then, is there really anything of value left in the church, when love isn’t there (1 Cor. 13:1-3)? [330]

We need to think very seriously about what Girard said. In many ways, our churches are failing at love – even love for one another, not to mention love for those who are different from us. If we are failing at love, then Paul would say that we are noisy gongs, clanging cymbals… nothing.

Look around you. Do you see a brother or sister who is hurting or in need. Love them. Now. Sacrificially. Humbly. Completely. Liberally. Repeatedly. Consistently. Now.

Don’t feel like loving them? Then there’s nothing left.


16 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 8-19-2008

    Love is the key to Christianity. Thank you so much for this wonderful post Alan. I enjoy reading your blog. It has been such a blessing. Thank you for stressing the importance of this topic. So many Christians fuss and fight. It is so very sad to see churches split and divide over selfishness.
    I preach alot of love and grace and have seen it build a stronger fellowship, or body. We actually love eachother like a family. It is so wonderful to see and be a part of on Sunday mornings. When people walk in our building they feel love.
    So, again Alan thank you so much for bringing up this important topic and sharing this with us. You are a true blessing to the Kingdom of God.

  2. 8-19-2008

    Alan,
    Thank you. We can sing about it until we are blue in the face, but it is all for nothing unless we live it. Keep reminding us of that fact.
    Blessings,
    Chris

  3. 8-19-2008

    This is bitter sweet brother Alan. Bitter swit. Thank you for being a body that will exemplify Christ’s love.

  4. 8-19-2008

    Alan: convicting words for all of us. Let us love each other as Christ loved us. Thanks for the courage to post this and call us all to account.

  5. 8-19-2008

    Kinney, Chris, Lionel, and Andy,

    Thank you for your comments. I pray that God gives you all opportunities to love others in his name. Then, I hope that you will write about it so that you can encourage others to “Go and do likewise”.

    -Alan

  6. 8-19-2008

    Alan reading this nearly moved me to tears. Indeed the only reason why I didn’t cry is because the reality of believers not loving each other is almost a given for the experience of human community. I am grateful for your words of encouragement which ground me in the very need to produce fruit of the Spirit that is necessarily relational.

    I pray that God continues to support you and all those who regularly reads these challenging posts to be able to share testimonies of more believers who have found Christ-like love in Christ-like community.

    Bless you Alan.

  7. 8-19-2008

    Alan,

    I thank God for your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit on these issues, and am thrilled that there are like-minded brethren with you!

    Girard’s book, Brethren Hang loose was very formative in my spiritual walk, when it was first released some thirty or so years ago. The one you quote was, if my memory is still functioning properly, was the next one.

    To speak to “dyed in the wool” traditional evangelicals about the issues he raises, was to be branded as espousing liberation theology.

    It has been deeply impressed upon me, for a number of years, that if those who claim to be God’s people don’t come to grips with these matters from a truly Biblical standpoint, and realize that being a Christian is NOT about building bigger and better edifices,obtaining larger numbers of backsides to polish pews on Sundays, they will further demolish the legitimacy of their claim to be Christian. As you say,”Then there’s nothing left.”

    According to John 15:13, those who truly know Him as Savior and Lord, Jesus regarded as friends for whom He was willing to lay down His life.

    It seems to me that many Christians have forgotten; if they ever understood, that before Christ came into their life, they were amongst those most to be pitied, spiritually poverty stricken, blind, and without hope in this world.

    “Brother! Let me be your servant. Let me be as Christ to you.”

  8. 8-19-2008

    Good post. This really hits home for me as I have been struggling with feelings of isolation. I have tried to make connections with others at church but there doesn’t seem to be that interest in anyone getting to know me or my family personally. I am a stay at home mom of 7 kids, my oldest has Autism. My husband and I moved into a new community over 4 years ago, and we still have no friends. We started wondering maybe if something was wrong with us. I dont know why it so hard. Jesus said to love one another, not ignore one another.

    God bless you Alan and I enjoy reading your posts.

  9. 8-19-2008

    Anonymous,

    Thank you for commenting and for sharing your struggles with us. A real life situation is often of much value. Please send me an email (see my email address at the top right of my blog).

    -Alan

  10. 8-19-2008

    Christopher,

    You said, “[B]elievers not loving each other is almost a given for the experience of human community.” Yes, that’s been my experience as well. In fact, until recently, this has also been my practice. In theory, I love people, but in practice I did not.

    Aussie John,

    I read Brothers, Hang Loose and Brothers, Hang Together a couple of years ago. I really enjoyed the books. I understand that Girard has a follow-up book dealing with some of the struggles that he’s faced since them, but I haven’t found it yet.

    -Alan

  11. 8-20-2008

    Excellent post Alan-

    1Cor 13:13 came to my mind while reading this post, “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

    The church in general is missing the point of it’s very existence when it fails to recognize needs…it’s an even greater failure when it recognizes needs and chooses to ignore them. Our pastor addressed this last Sunday before he started his message. He stated that for there to be people among us and in our community that are hungry and for us to not meet that need is totally unacceptable. He went even farther to say that he would not be a part of a church that failed to meet the needs of the community around it. I agree wholeheartedly…

    Thank you for this post Alan.

  12. 8-20-2008

    What do you expect when the house of God is thought to be the meeting place and not the Church herself? The responsibility to care about other people lies in a building or an organization, so few people actually realize that it’s their place to do anything.

  13. 8-20-2008

    I would just like to say at the beginning I really appreciate this forum and the subjects that are expounded upon.Now on with the discussion. This is what you get when you start worrying about professionalism over the Holy Spirit.Let me give an actual experience. During the holiday season some members of our Sunday School were excited about sharing Christ through giving of material goods(mostly food and such).A lot of us knew how hard it can be to come up with the basics, let alone any extra’s during the holidays. Anyway, we could not seem to generate any enthusiasm from our classes. The really disheartening part was we had 5 pastors and not one of them went with us to distribute the goods to the needy families. This was not a isolated incidence. We got to present the gospel at a local mission(soap kitchen). Not one of the pastors came to that either. I was a deacon at the time and became unemployed for an extended period of time(6 months). Not one of the pastors asked if there was anything I needed financially or otherwise. A fellow brother in Christ visited one evening with a check for $1,000 and more groceries than my family could use in a couple of weeks. I was stunned and humbled. He had went to some men of the church and raised this. This was without the pastors consent as they had certain guidelines to receive charity from the church. The only thing the senior pastor said about the extended unemployment was “I bet you have enjoyed having the free time.” This was not a joke. The great thing about the unemployment was I was able to encourage others that were going through this. God showed me he WOULD provide through a lot of different avenues and 17 years later I still counsel others going through this. What a blessing! A lot of Christians within large churches are concerned more about their multiple vacations and large homes than a person in need.Apparently it takes a lot to keep up with the Jones-es. From what I have seen the “common folk” of the church are more charitable than the more well to do. Of course there are always exceptions. Churches tend to be concerned about how that the extemporaneous(love)offerings will affect the weekly giving. I was also a treasurer at different churches and this is not a isolated incident on worrying about how love gifts affected the regular offering. I have on more than one occasion had a pastor teach on the proper way to give sequentially – ie, the tithe first,love offering second etc, freewill giving etc. Anyway, Matthew 25:34-45:

    34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous 16 will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ 40 And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
    Bro. Al

  14. 8-20-2008

    Brandon,

    I’m glad to hear that your church is addressing these issues. Every believer should address these issues, both in their personal life and in their community life.

    Skwirl,

    Yes, I think that many times we do not feel responsible for others personally because we shift that responsibility to the organization.

    Al,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I’m excited to hear that God is using a very bad situation in your life as an encouragement to others. And, yes, the Matthew 25 passage is very convicting and quite to the point.

    -Alan

  15. 8-20-2008

    It grieves me to admit that I’ve been as guilty of this as anyone. More so, even. I’ve known of people sick or in the hospital or just in need and not done what I could. Thank you for convicting me this evening, dear brother.

    I remember about a month ago when we moved about 6 men from my church came by and helped. I didn’t ask most of them-they offered when they found out I was moving. When I asked the senior pastor if he could help, he said “Well, you’ll just need to ask around to see who is free. After all, the church is giving you $75 to rent a moving van.” Gee, thanks “pastor”.

  16. 8-21-2008

    I don’t know who the author is of this beautiful poem but it really says a lot and I wanted to share it.

    Somewhere out there

    There’s someone who needs a smile.

    Somewhere out there,

    There’s someone who needs a touch of your hand.

    There’s someone who needs a kind word,

    some understanding, forgiveness,

    a whisper of appreciation.

    Somewhere out there,

    there’s someone who needs something to eat,

    a place out of the cold, a pair of warm socks.

    Somewhere out there,

    there’s a soul who needs to be remembered,

    just remembered, even that will do.

    As you live your life from this moment to next,

    please think about those whose paths you cross.

    Even if they stand right in front of you,

    take that one little step that can, and will,

    make all the difference in the world.

    Lord I know at times I may not have been that friend that someone needed, I may not have shown the love they needed. But Lord, starting today, I want to change. Starting today, I can reach out to another, I can be that friend, I can show that love that they need. Please Lord, I don’t want to let this day pass without showing someone that they matter and that they are loved. Change me Lord, so they may see You through me.

    It’s never to late to start today…you can make a difference in someones life. May God bless all of you and remember ” Let all that you do be done with love. ” 1 Corinthians 16:14