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I realized that Iíd been part of an elaborate con, that the guy who called wasnít a Navy Chaplain at all, that this family hadnít lost their son, but that this was part of a scheme they did to get money from local churches.
Things arenít always what they appear to be. In fact, this is also true in the spiritual journey of following Jesus Christ, that things arenít always what they appear to be. The Christians John was writing do back in the first century were undergoing a terrible church split. The basis of the church split was over who Jesus was, and it seemed that every week they met there were fewer people, because more and more former church members were abandoning the church and the Christian life for unbiblical and false ideas about Jesus Christ and the spiritual journey. Weíve seen that in the spiritual journey things arenít always what they appear to be as well. So far in 1 John weíve seen the apostle John give his friends a few tests for the spiritual journey. The first test is belief in Jesus, and two weeks ago we talked about the need to develop doctrinal discernment about what any spiritual claim thinks about belief in Jesus Christ. We can understand the importance of this first test, to believe in Jesus Christ. After all, Christians believe that Jesus is Godís one and only Son, the one who came and lived the life we failed to live and who died the death we deserved to die in order to open up eternal life for us. Since Jesus Christ is central to Godís purposes in our generation, we can understand why believing in Jesus is so important. But the other big test Johnís told us about is the test of our love for other followers of Jesus Christ.
Why does the Bible make such a big issue of Christians loving each other? Twenty-seven times the Bible commands Christians to love each other. Why couldnít God just tell us to put up with each other, or to tolerate each other? Every church I know of, every pastor I talk to, struggles with this idea of Christians loving each other. Itís not that Christians donít believe it, but itís that itís so difficult sometimes. Some churches simply give up on the idea because it seems too lofty, too unrealistic for modern people. Other churches pretend like theyíre loving each other, but peel away the surface and you find the poison of bitterness and resentment, seeping out in gossip and slander.
Here at LBF Church we struggle with loving each other. We certainly donít live up to the New Testament ideal of what it means. Why
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