Love thy neighbour as thyself
This means to love your neighbour because God has given you a love for him. Don’t try to love your neighbour because you know you should and hope that pretending to love will cause genuine love to spring up in your heart. The better way is to get down on your knees and ask God to show you what is preventing you from truly loving your neighbour. Be prepared for Him to reveal some ugly baggage that you have been carrying and be willing to throw it overboard. This doesn’t guarantee that your neighbour will love you in return, but it removes the obstacles that you have placed in his way.
By love serve one another
We sing “They’ll know we are Christians by our love” and think we mean it. The words above are a test of whether we really do. Do we really want what is best for our brother or sister? No doubt we really want them to believe we do. But if we try to serve our brother or sister in the way that we think will be best for them without inconveniencing ourselves too much, it will be phony. And they will know that it is phony. The motivation for serving another must come from God – and it generally involves a sacrifice of some kind on our part. True God-given love makes that sacrifice seem totally worthwhile without giving us a feeling of pride for the good that we have done. It’s all about our brother or sister, not about us.
Let each esteem other better than themselves
Ooh. This one cuts pretty close. We know we need to be humble. We are humble. Then why do we find it so easy to notice how our brother or sister is not as humble as we are? We need to admit that humility is not something that we can do. It is a condition of the heart that comes from God. True humility is the Christian’s steel-toed work boot: it allows our brother to step on our toes and we don’t even feel it. It allows us to see the Spirit of Christ in our brothers and sisters and to see their admirable qualities, many of which we know we lack.
Authentic Christian faith is a matter that is between me and God alone. I cannot obtain it from my parents, my forefathers, doctrines and teachings, even though all may be genuinely Christian and spiritual and an encouragement to us as we follow our Lord. But faith can only come from God.
Some folks find such statements scary. If we base our faith solely upon our relationship with God, won’t that leave room for a lot of individualistic variations?
Doesn’t such a fear betray a lack of trust in God? Can’t we trust that our Father will want to draw His children together?
I believe there is room in God’s family for variations due to circumstances. Variations due to personal preferences are another matter. They may well indicate a relationship with God that is not very secure or stable.
Relying on outward forms to compel unity among Christians lessens our dependence upon God, our Father, and will eventually break down. Let’s keep our faith authentic.