Love in Christ is a phrase that believers often use at the end of a letter. Its use began the day Jesus spoke these words – “they will know you by your love for one another.” Our mutual love for Christ expands its arms through us . . . Jesus’ followers embrace one another with it.
I sense a deep emotional affection to people who’ve prayed with me through hard times. I’ve opened my soul to them and they haven’t betrayed my confidence. They’ve stood with me, cried with me, given me verses of scripture to encourage me, sent me messages of hope and assured me that God was with me. My heart is bound to theirs; they are dear to me.
I confess I don’t have equal affection for every follower of Christ. Some put me off – too overbearing, too nutty, too gossipy. For them I use the phrase “love in Christ” in a different way. The only way I can love them is “in Christ.” At times, I’ve wanted to turn my back on all difficult to love people. But, the love of Jesus urges me to love all, not only the lovable.
Peter found Paul hard to love. At least, that’s what I take from the scriptures that show them butting heads. Paul was tough, a straight shooter and Peter had a habit of compromising when he shouldn’t have. Paul also locked horns with Barnabas, a colleague and friend known for being an encourager.
Paul wrote a large chunk of the New Testament. But if I’d known him personally, I might not have had strong affection for him – too pushy, too my-way-or-the-highway.
Why should we struggle to love? Because it pleases our Lord. And, in the end, nothing else matters but pleasing Him. Sacrifice won’t do it. Hard work in His service won’t do it. Only obedience.
I’m called to apply Christ’s love to everyone, even those who don’t give me the warm fuzzies. And even those who don’t love me back or don’t get me.
Love in Christ, Rose