Our faith is never only between us and God; it is shown through the way we live every day. The Bible has a lot to say about how we live with one another. Christ laid down his life for us and calls us to follow him in loving one another sacrificially.
Our God is passionate about how we live in our relationships. He desires we demonstrate love and live in peace. In John 17, as Jesus was preparing his disciples for his absence, he looked into their grieving faces and prayed for them. So what did he ask God to give them? Jesus prayed for them (and us) that we would have unity. His desire is for us to be one as he is united with the Father and the Spirit. The inseparable unity of the trinity is the ideal that Jesus desires for us.
Jesus laid out two commands in Mathew 22:36-40. He said these two commands are the summary of all commandments: Love God most of all and love others as you love yourself. Love God, love people. To be genuine in our faith, these are the two commandments we need to focus on getting right. God knows that we are imperfect and that we will not always get this right, but it is the desire of his heart that we strive for this. God promises to strengthen and equip us for loving our neighbor.
1 John 4:20-21 tells us,
“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”
Our love for God is in direct relationship with how we treat our neighbor. Genuine love for one another flows from our relationship with God. Don’t let your faith be just a ritual without meaning. Let your faith be real so that others will be transformed by it.
In Matthew 5:23-24 Jesus tells us that we should place the reconciliation of our relationships before our worship.
“If you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”
Don’t think that God doesn’t care about your relationships. God wants you to seek healing of your relationships and strive for reconciliation.
We need to take inventory of our relationships and ask God to search our hearts to see if there is any offense way in us. In Romans 12:18 we are told that we are responsible for as much as it depends on us to live in peace with one another. We can’t control anyone else’s behavior, but God will hold us accountable for our own. Pray for God's grace to permeate your relationships.
In John 17:23 Jesus prays, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” Our faith will be as attractive as our behavior toward others. If we are bitter toward others; who would want our faith? If we model the love of Christ, people will be drawn to a relationship with Jesus. Let God’s love overflow in you, to embrace others and draw them to Christ.
Rev. Dr. Steven Koster
Rev. Deb Koster
Rev. Dr. Steven Koster