Three years ago, our family moved out of on-campus seminary housing and into a house. Around that same time, five families who were part of our church moved. Our church became very adept at packing and unpacking, loading and unloading. During one move a little later, we helped some of our friends move. When we finished, we noticed one of the neighbors was packing a moving truck. The husband and wife were trying to pack up by themselves. We all went over – more than twenty of us – and packed their moving truck for them.
Anyway, back to the story… as I said, we moved three years. The church helped us, and it was an incredible demonstration of love for our family. I wrote a quick blog post about it then called “Love one another“. Today, I am even more convinced that the love we are commanded to share with one another and with our neighbors is a real, demonstrable, working, sweating kind of love.
There have been a couple of blog entries concerning the life of our church over the last week and love for another (for example, see Theron Stancil’s entry and Alice C.’s entry, and a related article by Isabel here). Last Saturday, we were the recipients of Christian love. We moved from seminary housing to a real house in a nearby city. Our brothers and sisters began arriving at our duplex by 9:00 a.m. to help us move. Many worked tirelessly moving boxes and furniture. Others provided meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) for our family and those helping (with enough leftovers to feed our family for a couple of days). Since we could only rent a small moving truck (apparently last weekend was the busiest moving weekend of the year), we had to make two trips. Our friends not only helped us load and unload the truck twice, but they also stayed to help us set up the new house. (Yes, we still have boxes to unpack, but we can live in the house as it is.) Some stayed until after 9:00 p.m. helping us. But that’s not all… we also had help cleaning our duplex on Monday!
So, why did I go into all of that? Well, let me start with a few passages of Scripture…
Jesus said to him, ” ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)
This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (John 15:12, 17)
For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13)
For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another… (1 John 3:11)
Sure… we’ve heard these commands to “love one another” since we were children. But how often have you (or I) been the recipients of true love… love that is patient, kind… love that demonstrates itself in unselfish ways… love that gives and gives and gives… love that lifts and carries and sweats and aches… love that sacrifices time and effort… Over the last few days, as I’ve contemplated this demonstration of love, several other Scripture passages have come to mind:
By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:16-18)
If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:15-17)
Certainly, we were not naked nor destitute of daily food, but we were in real, physical need, and the love of Christ was demonstrated to us in real, physical ways. Isn’t it amazing that James uses this (a physical demonstration of love) as one of the visible manifestations of true faith? So, our family has been the recipients of real, biblical, Christ-honoring love.
So what? Do we thank God for His goodness and go on with our lives? Well, that brings me to the last passage of Scripture:
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
You see, as our church gathered on Saturday (yes, I did mean Saturday) in order to move us, we were encouraged (exhorted). We were stirred up and provoked to provide the same type of love to others. It is our prayer that God provides opportunities for us to love our neighbors in similar ways. Through our loving deeds and words (not just loving deeds and not just words!), perhaps some of them will come to recognize that it is not the Knox family alone that loves them, but it is God who loves them through us.