“Now on the topic of brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another. And indeed you are practicing it toward all the brothers and sisters in all of Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more.”
Paul spends time explaining to his beloved Thessalonians what it means to really love and he does it by telling them how they are exhibiting it. He says first that they don’t need a special teacher to teach this skill to them. They already know how to do it because God has shown that to them in the sacrificial giving of His Son. Secondly, they are already practicing it so it isn’t that they aren’t doing it now. But, Paul says they need to do it more and more. In fact, Paul is urging them. The Greek word for urge is “par-ak-al-eh’-o“ which reminds us of the Holy Spirit, our Advocate; one who comes alongside. Therefore, Beloved, we are to be the advocate for others who can’t be their own. This is how we show brotherly love.
The reality is that we don’t live in the 1st century, we live in the 21st century and our lives are programmed by social media and email.
Practically, what does it mean to us? How do we respond in brotherly love and why should we even consider this?
- We must come to recognize that God is calling us to move out of our comfort zone into our Instagram, Facebook, etc. side of life.
- We must consider where we are in our spiritual journey.
Here’s how I looked at it from the perspective of being a people person whose life has taken a circuitous route and I have ended up as the Facebook Administrator after a disgruntled employee left our ministry. Kicking and screaming “I don’t do this,” I am now learning the ropes of social media. Into this mix, God drops not just one but many from around the world!
Life is now like a stack of dominoes ready for the first one to drop and the rest will just follow. Who knows when the last will fall? As each one falls, and you meet that need, another is right behind it oh so ready to take its place. The first one has a problem with apostasy! Really? So before this one falls flat, and you lose it, you set out to determine all you can about this topic because you have never been to seminary! You have a lot of head knowledge, but your sphere of influence has been the proverbial-on-task-always ready-head-filled-with-Bible-knowledge Christian, but apostasy? Where does that fit in?
Seeking the Holy Spirit illumination, He gently guides you through the scriptures and you hand them off to the one questioning his salvation and sanctification. This domino wavers, but you hang in there. Remember this: God is gracious and He never sends you more than you are ready for and more than you can handle at one time. To me, that is what that verse in 1 Corinthians has come to mean. When you have finally taken a breath and feel he is secure, another domino stands tall and says, “What about this legalistic church I am attending? How do I handle being rejected etc?”
It is then that the study of the church in Corinth becomes real day by day and you begin to feel and think like Paul as he faced their problems and questions. Thank you for the book of 1 Corinthians!
Beloved, you are living in the on-line community. Christ commanded us to love one another, and by it, the world will know we are His disciples. Repeat with me: “Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples – if you have love for one another.” [Joh 13:35] We have been informed of our duty. We know our Master’s will, and we cannot plead ignorance as an excuse. [M.Henry paraphrased]
And so you step out of your comfortable sphere of face-to-face and you enter into the sphere of the faceless and perhaps even nameless seekers of your wisdom. Here’s my suggestion: Follow the example of the prophets of old: they searched and investigated carefully; they probed into the scriptures they had, and they saw themselves, not serving themselves, but others (1 Peter 1, my paraphrase and understanding). And then you put that into practice.
God has been so gracious to allow you and I to live in this internet age. We must step up to the plate and to take a clue from AT&T: “reach out and touch someone.” Who will you touch today with the love of God that they may know Christ as they have never known before?