… A Place to Grow in Love
The evening before His crucifixion, our blessed Lord instructed:
“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends”. (John 15:12-13)
In so doing, He elevated the standard of our love from “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18) to preferring our brethren even above ourselves – mandating willingness to even sacrifice our lives for our brethren! As our Lord and Father have done for us and exemplified for us, so we must also do if we will be His disciples and children (1 John 4:9-11, 19-21). Although this is an extreme manifestation of one’s love for his brethren, it is nonetheless visible in our daily lives and frequent interaction because such love is an observable testimony to our commitment to our Teacher:
“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)
As you look for a congregation that exhibits such love, notice if the members mostly disappear as soon as they are dismissed or if they visit with each other, checking on each other, offering encouragement, and lending counsel – long after the last prayer is worded. Please notice if public assemblies are the limit of interaction among members. Or, do they gather to study or sing regularly in their homes? Are the members left to struggle with their unbearable needs, or are their spiritual family members taking meals, sharing loads, and weeping with those who weep (Romans 12:10-16)? Are relationships forged primarily upon earthly family lines, ethnic boundaries, distinctions in wealth – befriending only the familiar and those who can return the favor (James 2:1-9; Luke 14:11-14), or does the common spiritual bond and spiritual family transcend all because of a common love of truth (2 John 1-2)? If you look, we are confident you will find such true brotherly love at Pepper Road.
But does such love mean there is no correction, no uncomfortable warning, or no difficult rebuke? Let us see what the Holy Scriptures teach us:
Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)
Just as Jesus commanded the adulteress to “sin no more” (John 8:11), sometimes brethren must confront and correct others caught in sin. Although Christian love truly “does no harm” (Romans 13:10), the greatest harm one could inflict upon a friend is to selfishly value the relationship more than the person and keep back words of redeeming rebuke for fear of personal loss and rejection. True love “covers sin” not by overlooking it or by covering it up, but by lovingly addressing it and saving one’s brother! Short of giving one’s life, what greater expression of sacrificial love exists than the willingness to risk your friendship to save your friend?
Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. (James 5:19-20)
Our goal and desire at Pepper Road is to be just such a church and people. Although we have our failings, we help each other get back up in God’s grace while loving each other, rejoicing in the Lord’s redeeming love, and eagerly sharing His love with others.
Would you like to join in this great family and work where you will be loved and can love as Christ loved all of us?