Beyond race relations: Love one another

John 13-34-35

Previous blog posts have focused primarily on the Verse of the Day with emphasis on the Word for the Day from time to time.  For the next week our entries will closely examine a phrase that is often heard: “It’s all about relationships. . .” This statement resonates through life, as individuals desire to maintain successful relationships. I recall this declaration as the theme of a life-changing conference that I attended in 2013.hosted by Apostles Eric and Carolyn Warren of Equip U Ministries of Reynoldsburg, OH.

The following comments are taken from a blog entry related to that event:

Dane Findley, health writer and wellness coach, commented that “Paying close attention to the relationships in your life is not an extracurricular activity — it’s the reason for life itself.”

Without question, “It’s all about relationships,” starting from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. The Book of Genesis and subsequent books of the Bible unfold the consequences of the first broken relationship when Lucifer chooses to break fellowship with God, thus becoming the “first murderer” and “the father of lies” who begets an untruth in the very presence of truth. We see the devastating consequences of his deadly influence in the Fall of Man and the degradation of humanity and all of earthly life itself.

The Scriptures reveal God’s ultimate desire for reconciliation and the healing of all broken relationships, expressed through Jesus Christ. As ambassadors or representatives of Christ, we stand in his place, using the word of reconciliation which is part of the ministry of reconciliation, as we endeavor to restore broken relationships, first with God and with others as well (II Corinthians 5:17-21).

The primary relationship in life is one’s relationship with God. Matthew 6:33 reminds us to “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” We also recognize “The first and great commandment: To love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” Believers are further instructed to “love your neighbor as yourself.” When we love God, first of all, and then love others to the same degree that we love ourselves, we fulfill the law of love which is the highest expression of God who is love.

Among the powerful and insightful presentations at the “It’s all about relationships Conference was a teaching by Apostle Carolyn Warren who discussed seven principles that can be universally applied to “launch, challenge, and grow relationships.” Certainly these principles for achieving and maintaining successful relationships could be specifically applied in an area of critical importance in America today: race relations.

Today’s blog post will discuss the first of these seven principles with an additional entry being posted each day for the remainder of the week. These seven principles are related to verbs that connote action when specifically applied in terms of what should be done to “one another,” a phrase that is used 31 times in the Scriptures. The reciprocal pronoun used in the plural carries the notion of a group of people acting upon themselves, i.e., upon one another. For example, we are to “love another and so forth. . .”

1) Love

2) Honor

3)  Forgive

4)  Encourage

5)  Admonish

6)  Serve

7)  Make peace

The number seven represents ““fullness, finishing, and spiritual perfection,” according to Biblical scholar E.W. Bullinger. The seven verbs thus comprise a seven-fold template that can be applied to strengthen any relationship, especially in the area of interracial relationships. Bullinger also notes that seven is the number or hallmark of the Holy Spirit’s work.

Love one another:

Love, indeed, is the first principle of all relationships, the foundation stone expressed in the first and great commandment: Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. On these two hang all the law and the prophets,” said Jesus Christ.

As the essential element of life, Jesus Christ is the model, the standard of love who responds to a question regarding the greatest commandment:

Matthew 13:37-39

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Throughout the New Testament believers are encourage to “love one another.” Note 1 Peter 3:8 in the Amplified Bible:

 Now concerning brotherly love, you have no need for anyone to write you, for you have been [personally] taught by God to love one another [that is, to have an unselfish concern for others and to do things for their benefit].

Jesus Christ reminded his followers to demonstrate their love for one another:

John 13:34-35 (AMP)

34 I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too are to love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.”

1 Thessalonians 4:9 (AMP) sums up the matter:

Finally, all [of you] should be of one and the same mind (united in spirit), sympathizing [with one another], loving [each other] as brethren [of one household], compassionate and courteous (tenderhearted and humble).

As we reflect upon the first principle to be applied to “launch, challenge, and grow relationships,” each day we must

Decide to demonstrate, freely give and practice love:

The first thread whereby we must launch all relationships

And follow Christ’s command that we love one another.

“Love one another.”

Michael W. Smith offers comments and a spirited musical reminder:

 

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