I am certain that this will not be my only post on the subject of love, hence the #1. Love is an ever present topic and thought that probably runs through any person's mind and is (or should be) experienced multiple times a day. I feel deeply for the person that does not get to experience any kind of love on a daily basis. But what is love? ("Baby don't hurt me.") It's such a hard concept to even try to explain as a Christian, because love experienced through Christ is so opposite to the world's view of love.
Yesterday I was in a situation where I had to show someone love in a difficult way. I had to present my sister with a harsh truth about her life. The kind of earth shaking, identity rocking truth that can really break a person. There was a lot of crying (on her part and mine) because we were both hurt that this had to happen. But that's just it, it had to happen.
I think Hebrews 10:19-39 addresses really well why and how Christians should love. Paul starts with, "Therefore my brothers, since we have a confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus..." Jesus is not ashamed to call all believers his brothers (and sisters), and Paul identifies with his readers by recognizing that they are brothers (and sisters) in Christ, and therefore in the family of God. His objective is to drive home the fact that by Christ's sacrifice (19,20) and priesthood (21), Christians have legit access to the very presence of God.
Based on that open access Paul then makes three appeals (22,23,24). "Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith..." Paul wanted the Christians in Jerusalem to actually use their privilege of access and intimacy with God. This approach to God in a personal relationship needed to be done with a "sincere heart." The new covenant in Jesus Christ changes hearts, but a continued loyalty of heart is still required of believers.
Paul's second appeal is, "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." Because the Jerusalem Christians were in danger of letting go of their faith and hope in Christ, Paul repeatedly warns them to "hold fast" in their confidence and hope until the very end. The reason that Christians can have such a hope is because there is nothing more stable, steadfast, and unchanging than the faithfulness of God to His promises. God is faithful in every promise He makes. Our security and hope is founded on God's faithfulness, and every promise finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.
Paul's third appeal is in how Christians should interact with each other. "Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." The Jerusalem Christians had cared for one another, but Paul now wants them be mindful of the need to spur each other on. To spur literally means to prick, to provoke, to jab, or to needle. So in other words...PAINFUL. Paul wants them to encourage each other about the practicalities of mutual love and good deeds. Instead of the dead works of religion, Paul wants his fellow Christians to engage in "love and good works" among themselves. Christians have a collective responsibility to one another. The isolation and individualism of some Christians today is not compatible at all with the community of Christ illustrated in the Bible.
My sister ultimately thanked me for calling her out. Thinking about her reaction, I on the other hand, am less mature and probably would have stayed mad for days. But she instead was wise, and recognized truth when it was presented in love. I am usually so scared to hold my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ accountable for their sins, for fear of their reactions. But if I love my biological sister enough to present her with painful truth in love, should not my love for all Christians be in the same way?