All truth is connected in some way. It is the connection between the things that Jesus taught, talked about in my Red Letter Faith series, and the things that tend to help us journey through this life with a closer walk with God talked about in my Higher Ground series, that is the topic of this post. As such it will fall into each category but that is not really important to understanding the principle here.
The principle is this; Love is our goal, target, and should be our motive in everything we endeavor to do. And yet for a supposed love of truth many have behaved exactly opposite to this paradigm. Let us be careful not to throw out love and grace in our defense of truth; the very truth we seek to contend for promotes these attributes.
The Conflict in Corinth
The conflict in the Corinthian church was intense. Paul received word that there was strife, envying, fighting, and every form of carnality rampant within the church there. Relationships were breaking down fast and lives were being destroyed by sin and immorality. Paul wrote to challenge the pride and arrogance, he wrote to challenge the sin, and he wrote to correct the misuse and abuse of spiritual gifts.
He said, “But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.” (1 Corinthians 12:31)
Do you know what that more excellent way is that he showed them? Probably it is obvious now because I did not sneak up on you with the topic as though it was some kind of puzzle or riddle. It really isn’t. It is so thorough in scripture that you cannot miss the connection throughout. There is incredible continuity of this truth, as with all truth, in the scriptures. And yet many seem to miss it. That more excellent way is ‘love’, charitableness, agape love.
Peter wrote, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:”
(1 Peter 1:22)
There was intense conflict in our church that was constantly being hid or ignored. But those of us that were there in the thick of it knew. What we went through there in a very large way was a catalyst for me in so many areas of my life. The things I learned then are the reason behind this website. If you look at my earlier posts you can certainly see that.
The conflict there, the clamoring for control there, was definitely what brought me to my Higher Ground journey and understanding. The more excellent way that Paul wrote about was what my heart longed for. Unfeigned love. I longed to see the love that he talked about, genuine love and not a pretense of love or conditional love that I had observed. The ultimate goal of altruism within our hearts, the being more like God as we mature in life and in our walk with Him, became my quest.
In our lives now abides faith, hope, and charity, these three; but Paul said the greatest of these is charity.
The First and Greatest Commandment
Jesus repeated a phrase while talking to His disciples, “agapaō allēlōn“. (a transliteration) Do you know what He said? What was it that He commanded His disciples repeating it twice in one breath. And repeating it twice again in another place as He walked and talked with them. He repeated it and He demonstrated it constantly. Do you know what it was? What “agapaō allēlōn” means? Here is a hint if you care to go read the verse in John 13:34. Jesus repeated it again and we see it recorded in John 15:12 and John 15:17.
Each time He said it there was no question about what His expectation was; He said “this is my commandment.” You cannot get much clearer than that. “This is my commandment that you ‘agapaō allēlōn‘, that you ‘love one another’.” His desire and wish, His expectation of us, is that we would love one another. Love others who name His name. It is simple. And yet in the Corinthian church they could not get it right. And Paul wrote to set the record straight and to remind them. But it doesn’t end there. There is more.
Love Your Enemy? Really?!
Often when Jesus preached He would repeat this principle before the multitudes. Was it an unrealistic expectation that He would say, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”? Jesus was making it clear that simply loving our neighbor was not enough. Loving other believers was not enough. His Father’s expectation, His expectation, was that love would be our goal, target, and should be our motive in everything we endeavor to do.
Jesus repeated this phrase at least twice in His sermon on the mount. It is recorded in three places in the gospel texts; Matthew 5:44, and Luke 6 verses 27 and 35. Loving your enemy does not come easy. And yet if we are going to honor His Words and follow His lead we must learn how. It is not easy but it is not impossible. Yet done in our own strength it will only be a pretense of love and not genuine.
All truth is connected; if what I am promoting in Higher Ground is established in truth, and if what I am sharing in the Red Letter Faith series is true, then they will be aligned. If my experience that I am sharing about in AllMyMentorsAreDead does not point to this one, all important principle of love, then nothing I write can be trusted.
When there is conflict in the church as there was in Corinth, and as there was in many of the other churches that Paul wrote to; when there is conflict in communities of faith sometimes the hardest thing to do is to respond in love. Our usual and human response is to fight. To answer fire with fire. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. To get even or get the upper hand.
When there is conflict, love is not usually the first thing on our mind. Unless we spend time with Jesus. Unless we listen to His Word as recorded in many Bibles in red letter print. Unless we listen to the more excellent way that Paul taught about. Unless we’re walking our own path to Higher Ground keeping in step with the Spirit. God is love. This is the bottom line. And if we’re going to be like Him, even during conflict, we will walk even as He walked; In love. As we do this (in unfeigned love) He takes our hand and helps us on our journey to a deeper and closer walk with Him. This sums up everything I have written.
If you have been following along here at AllMyMentorsAreDead from the beginning hopefully with this post you can see continuity and agreement with everything I have written up to this point. There is even this thought permeating the Worm Digger series at some level.
I hope this lesson is somehow a help and blessing to you. I hope that it helps you to see my heart and motive here. As I proceed with the lessons here on this site, a pursuit of unfeigned love will be the theme always. If I cannot have it so then I will not have it.
Kind regards to you always and forever,