Mutual Affection

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love” (2 Peter 1).

Jesus offered no five step plan for the growth of the early church.

He handed out no pamphlets or booklets on keys to church growth.

No timelines or formulas or projections or stats.

Just the command to love each other.

To be clear, this was His only tenet; He staked everything on it:

“A new command I give you, that you love one another” (John 13).

Wait, that’s not new.

That’s not different.

That’s not even that unique.

This must have been the look on the disciples’ faces. So to allow them to get a better handle on what He was describing, He goes on a bit further, giving them just a little more:

As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Patient, self-sacrificing, more-concerned-with-what-you-are-going-through-than-what-I-am-going-through,

LOVE.

And then this:

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples.”

The clearest, most convincing characteristic of a true Jesus Follower is his ability to love others.

Shouldn’t this be what attracts others to this Jesus movement?

Isn’t this what happened?

When outsiders saw these little clusters of Jesus followers popping up all over the empire, they were not attracted to their gatherings because of their carefully-worded tracts, or their countercultural rock albums, or their best-selling essays in the Christian section of the bookstore. They didn’t look on with amazement because their bumper stickers were so cleverly-worded or their channels on the television offered a more conservative perspective.

They looked from the outside, and marveled at how they loved.

“Look how they care for each other. They take care of each others’ needs. They give freely to anyone who is without. They put each other first. They hold nothing as their own or off-limits to the others around them.”

Sometimes I think all of our modern-day insurance policies, unemployment plans, 401 (K)’s, savings accounts, nest eggs and rainy-day funds are an indictment of our lack of mutual affection.

The early church saw themselves as all collectively racing towards one goal. And because of the nature of that race, they didn’t cling to anything too longingly. They were in a race to get rid of everything, especially things that could slow them down.

And if their things could help a brother or sister run further faster, it was a win-win.

My, how things have changed.

Have we forgotten we are in a race?

Have we become more concerned with our kingdoms here than with His?

Have we lost sight of the finish line?

I suppose that when someone says “I’ll be right back,” and then leaves for two thousand years, it becomes difficult to maintain the level of recklessness and urgency you might feel should you think He’s right around the corner.

Yet that is the urgency He has called us to.

Lord, help us to live urgent. Help us to live reckless.

Help us to be ready for Your return.

Amen.

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