Part 2: Love Each Other

February 26, 2023

Dr. Timothy Melton, Lead Pastor

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Glynn Wolfe died alone in Los Angeles at the age of 88. No one came claim his body; the city paid to have him buried in an unmarked grave. This is sad, but not unusual. It happens all too often in large cities where people tend to live disconnected lives.

Glynn's situation was unique, however, because he was no ordinary man. He held a world record. The Guinness Book listed him as the Most Married Man, with 29 marriages to his credit. This means 29 times he was asked, "Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife… as long as you both shall live?" Twenty-nine times Glynn Wolfe said, "I do," but it never quite worked out that way.

He left behind several children, grand-children, great grand-children, a number of living ex-wives, and innumerable ex-in-laws—and still, he died alone. He spent his entire adult life looking for something he apparently never found.[1] This is not how life was intended to be.

In Genesis 1 we read the Creation story. We read how God created the world and “it was good.” All was good, except for one thing. In Genesis chapter 2 God saw that it was not good that Adam was alone. We do not know if Adam was actually lonely or was even familiar with the concept of loneliness. He was in perfect relationship with God, but for God’s purposes in this world Adam needed a companion. God’s purposes would not be possible through one person living a life of solitude. In these verses we see that sharing life together would be an essential part of God’s plan on earth. So, God created the first woman, Eve (Genesis 2:18). 

In Genesis 3 we then read of Adam and eve´s rebellion against God. Immediately, in the verses following, they realized their shame and their nakedness and sought to hide from the One who had created them. 

Belonging was lost. Life was no longer a journey of companionship, love, and trust. It was now a path of survival. It was necessary to hide, blame, defend and not let anyone close enough to harm you.

Adam and Eve acted as if God didn’t know and as if God could not find them. Somehow they thought that their hiding would make everything better. They were more willing to hide and endure the pain of the separation that their sin had caused, than being known for who they really were. We often do the same.

Only in Christ can the sin and separation be removed. In Him we can truly be ourselves, be found guilty, be forgiven, be made new and be truly loved in spite of who we are. Christ is the key to belonging. We no longer have to make the choice between being known or being loved. In Him we are fully known and fully loved.  

Regardless of time or place in history, sin has always driven mankind away from each other. It has always threatened belonging at the heart level. In our present day it is even worse. Our society in the west champions individualism.

Philip Zimbardo, a psychologist from Stanford University, wrote these words in his article for Psychology Today magazine: "I know of no more potent killer than isolationism. There is no more destructive influence on physical and mental health than the isolation of you from me and us from them. It has been shown to be a central agent in the etiology of depression, paranoia, murder, schizophrenia, rape, suicide, and a mass and a wide variety of disease states".

This became even more apparent during the days of covid. 

Many Christians live in isolation and loneliness, but they don´t have to. The “belonging” that was lost because of our sin has been regained through Christ when we repented of our sin and believed. As Christians we have been reconciled to God. We are now part of the body of Christ and the family of God. 

In scripture loving one another is more than even a requirement, it is an indicator that a person either belongs to Christ or does not. It is spoken as a certainty.

1 John 3 provides these words on the idea of loving each other.

Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. . . We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. 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. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. . . And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He commanded us.”

In these words of the Apostle John, love is not optional. It is not a luxury item. A believer will love other believers. From one perspective that may sound very demanding. From another perspective it brings hope. It means that In Christ we all have access to the love we are to have for one another. It may seem out of reach but God’s Word is declaring it as a reality for every believer. The Spirit of Christ has come to dwell in us

The fact is that we now belong to one another. Between Christians “belonging” has been restored. We are fully known, fully loved and fully embraced by our heavenly father. We now also belong to the family of God that is made up of all who follow Christ.

God has brought those who were far away and alienated from God, near to God. He has made those who did not belong, now full citizens in Christ. He has taken the lost and now adopted them into His eternal family, with all the rights and privileges that that entails. All of us who have received Jesus Christ and believed in Him are now children of God. We have the same Father, the same Savior and the same Spirit living in us. Regardless of our skin color, cultural background, economic situation, level of education, first language or country of origin we are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are held together not by human bloodlines, but by the blood of Jesus Christ.

While this “factual belonging” sounds good, for many in the church there is not a sense of “felt belonging.” Francis Chan describes the problem with this story.

He tells of a young man who left a violent gang in their city to follow Christ, be baptized, and join the church. After about a year the young man stopped coming to church. One of the church leaders saw the young man and asked him what happened. The young man said, “When you join a gang, after you have survived the initiation you become family. 24/7, no matter what, you are there for each other. I thought the same would be true in the church once I got baptized, but I see that it is not. You see each other on Sundays and maybe Wednesdays, but besides that there is no sense of belonging or family, everyone just takes care of themselves.” 

That story is convicting. Would it not be great to be a church that lived out 1 Corinthians 12:26? “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” We have been given everything we need in Christ to belong, but somehow, we often live at a distance from each other. 

This idea of loving community, to many, sounds too good to be true. That is because most of us are more familiar with the betrayal of the world than the safety of being amongst the true people of God. So, we take care of ourselves. That is unfortunate. To share life with others does have its risks, but they are far outweighed by the benefits. 

Maybe you are a Christian who is saying, “But I would rather live my Christian life alone. . . I don’t need to live my life in community with other Christians.” Maybe you disagree with the idea of needing one another, but that is not what our Creator God says about the human life. 

In scripture we see that life was always intended to be lived in community. . . together. It is only in community that we can become who we were created to be. When we live in relationship with others our character is challenged and sharpened to become more like Christ. Our faults are exposed, and our strengths are shared. Think about the characteristics of Christ. Love, generosity, servanthood, patience, forgiveness, and mercy. None of those can be developed and expressed if a person is living life by themselves. That was one of the weaknesses of living in a monastery centuries ago. The monks had decided that the only way to be like Christ was to live in isolation and be separated from the world, when really the opposite was true. It is when we live in the world that we are truly shaped to be like Christ.   We were created to be a blessing to others as Christ is a blessing to us. It is only when we intentionally live alongside others that we truly begin to live the life to which God has called us. Many of the commands of scripture are only possible as we share life with others.

Belonging to one another is scary. It means that people know more about the details of your life. They know about your faults and the blemishes in your character. They see how you treat your spouse, how you raise your children, how you live your private life. It demands being authentic, caring for each other, being available, becoming vulnerable. Who wants all of that? In our individualized lives where we don’t know our neighbors, and have no desire to, we would much rather get home in the evening close the door, turn on the television or computer and pass our evening being entertained or surfing the web. No responsibility for others. 

This is the life of choice for many. We have built walls around ourselves where others are held at a safe distance and where we can maneuver and manipulate life in a comfortable manner. Predictable, safe, secure, but not as God intended. God’s plan includes imperfect, risky relationships with people. And God has given what we need to not only survive in relationships, but to thrive.

Christ commands us to love one another. We are to love one another “as He has loved us.” We are to love each other with an agape, Jesus type of love. A love that selflessly and sacrificially seeks the ultimate good for one another. 

God has given us so much more than rules or laws. He has put the law of love in our hearts and the Spirit of Christ in us so that we can carry out His command. To love is demanding, grueling and wonderful. It is the pursuit of Christ and life as it was intended to be. It is a dying to self and taking up your cross daily for the ultimate good of another. It is the greatest expression of Christ-likeness. None will surely take hold of it perfectly this side of heaven, but it is to be our goal, our obedience.

1 John 5:2 describes love with these words, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.” 

We can be guided to a loving obedience as we follow the commanded “one another’s” that we find throughout scripture.

John 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.”

Romans 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.”

Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.”

1 Peter 4:9-10 “Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

Romans 14:19 “So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.”

Romans 15:14 “And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able also to admonish one another.”

1 Thessalonians 4:18 “Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”

1 Thessalonians 5:15 “See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men.”

Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.”

Romans 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.”

Romans 12:16 “Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.”

1 Corinthians 11:33 “So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.”

Ephesians 5:21 “And be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”

Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.”

James 5:16 “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.”

1 Peter 5:5 “You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Ephesians 4:2 “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love.”

Ephesians 4:32 “And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

Romans 14:13 “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.”

Romans 15:7 “Wherefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.”

James 4:11 “Do not speak against one another, brethren.”

James 5:9 “Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.”

Colossians 3:9 “Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices.”

Romans 15:5 “Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus ….”

1 Corinthians 12:25 “That there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.”

Romans 14:19 “So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.”

1 Thessalonians 5:13 “And that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.”

We were meant to live on both sides of the “one anothers,” both giving and receiving as God leads.

Our love for one another is evidence of those who truly belong to the family of God. I know that after reading through that list of “one anothers” it sounds impossible to love this way, but throughout scripture we see how love drastically changes individuals and even groups of people. How the Holy Spirit imbeds in one’s heart a love for others that they never had before.

When we look at the story of the early church we see how God worked in multiple cases to bring about love and community amongst people who were very different. When you look at the 12 disciples of Jesus it seems like an impossible group to work with. On various occasions they argued amongst themselves about who would become the greatest. One would eventually betray Jesus and another deny Him. One had been a tax collector who worked for the Romans and stole money from his own people. Another was a zealot. Zealots were known for their hatred for the Romans, at times even to the point of murder if it was necessary. A tax collector and a zealot in the same room could have been disastrous, but somehow the love of Jesus took them from their selfishness and brought unity that was willing to suffer and to even die for the name of Christ.

In the book of Acts we see another example. The group of 12 had now grown to 120. This group had known Jesus while he was here on earth. Many had likely seen the crucifixion. They had been with Jesus after His resurrection. They had witnessed his ascension and now they had gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem as Jesus had instructed them to do. They prayed and waited for the Holy Spirit. They shared the fear of persecution. They likely shared many stories and memories of their days with Jesus. Regardless of their background they had become unified by their shared experiences and faith in Christ.

In Acts 2 the Holy Spirit came. God reversed the separation of language and peoples that the Tower of Babel had brought forth and now was replacing it with the unity that Christ brings. The 120 believers miraculously spoke the languages of the people from many nations that were visiting Jerusalem. Peter preached, and 3000 people put their faith in Jesus. That was great for the kingdom of God, but the intimate friendships that the 120 had built were now diluted by 3000 people who did not know all of Jesus’ teachings. Most of them had not known Jesus at all. Although they were Jewish they were from different countries, spoke different languages and had very little in common with the 120 who had walked with Jesus. It was likely that disunity would soon follow. But then we read in Acts 2:42-46, about the miraculous unity that the Holy Spirit worked in their hearts in a very short period of time.

 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts” (Acts 2:42–46).

How was this type of unity even possible, and in such a short amount of time? It had everything to do with the people having the same heart, same mind and same Spirit living within them. Now that they had been adopted into the family of God they no longer were identified by race, money, education or language. Those descriptors were still present but they were not the source of their identity. They had died to self and their old identity. Their needs were now met in Christ. They no longer had to fight for their own agendas, rights or needs. As they joined together in their new identity they became one.

We have access to the same unifying love that they did. This love of Christ has come to dwell in each of our hearts as well, but we must allow God to peel off the layers of self, the wounds of the past and the ways of the world so that His love can flow out of us. 

It is only in the vertical love relationship with God that we are prepared for the rigors of the horizontal love of each other.  It is only in our nakedness before God that we learn how to be transparent before man. It is only as our life finds its resting place in the unconditional love of Christ that we can selflessly love as He has commanded. It is only as He holds us securely that we will be drawn to risk reaching out to others.

May we close with these words.

John 15:9-17 - “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 


[1] Steve May,,