The grumpy chookwatcher sites are gradually losing the interest of readers as they recycle the same old complaints and rely on sketchy articles with contrived associations to keep the coop crawling along.
Some of their recent, very trite, stories are based on tweets, book reviews, conference promos, short snippets from messages, and trial by association with people who have no direct connection with their target groups. They are merely scratching at the surface for any tidbit, which is basically what chooks do in the pen, anyway. Oh well!
The only comments of interest come from people who briefly drop in to challenge ‘team’ chookwatchers‘ motives for their continual assault on other Christians.
Love for one another
There was one conversation of interest raised by a commenter, who we’ll call Dave, which caught my attention, because it raises a very important issue, where he said “Surely the thing that separates us from the world is our love for one another?”
The response from chookwatcher was astonishing. “This is not true. It’s misguided at best. The bible flatly opposes that view.”*
I beg your pardon? Does it? Does the Bible flatly oppose the view that, as disciples of Christ, our love for one another distinguishes us from the world?
In fact, Jesus told us that love defines discipleship.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
So Dave was correct. The thing which separates us from the world is the love we have for one another. In fact, it is a command to love one another as Christ has loved us. The only way we can achieve this is through relationship with God by the new birth.
Jesus is God the Word made flesh. God is love. When we receive Christ as Lord and Saviour we are birthed in His love, we enter His love, and we receive, by the Spirit, the love which is of God.
The fruit of the Spirit includes love. The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. We are told to walk in the Spirit, which is likened to walking in love. We are told to be imitators of God and walk in love.
Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
There is so much on the subject of love and how believers are to conduct themselves that it is hard to know why chookwatcher rejects the notion that love for one another defines discipleship, apart from the fact that chookwatcher was defending their claim to be able to judge all and everything, which has some merit, but not without love, which is the point Dave was making.
The love motive
If we do anything that is not from the motive of love, or is not governed and overseen by agapé, which is the unconditional love of God, we are merely clanging instruments creating a cacophony of noise. Our witness is nullified without love.
John is known as the Apostle of love. He writes much about the importance of love between the brethren.
Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.
He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.
He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
1 John 2:8-11
John reiterates the commandment of love given by Jesus. He strengthens it by saying that if we hate our brother, we are not in the light, but in darkness. This should make us stop and consider our position as believers.
Do we truly love the brethren? Even those who do not share the same understanding of certain passages of scripture, or ways of ministering, or even criticise us for the things on which we disagree?
John tells us that not loving our brothers and sisters in Christ is a cause for stumbling. Being continually critical of our brothers and sisters in Christ is entering a darkness which will cause blindness, and is to be avoided at all costs.
For this reason we even have to regard the criticism levelled at us by the chookwatchers with care. If they are brothers and sisters we have to walk in love with them, however misguided and unkind we consider them to be.
Test of faith and maturity
In fact, this is the truest test of our faith and maturity in Jesus. He even tells us to love our enemies in the world. How much more should we learn to love those who spitefully use us? We are told to bless them.
We do not love the world’s systems, or the world’s things, but we love those who are entrapped in the world, and we do this by presenting the love of Christ. This is what motivates us to deliver the gospel to them regardless of the world’s opinion of us.
But loving the brethren is an essential part of our walk. We love because God first loved us. Love is from Him and of Him. Love is in us because of Him. Love is with us through Him. We walk in love because we walk in the Spirit.
“If we bite and devour one another we will be consumed by one another”, says Paul. The danger here is that we will be cut down by offences if we do not mend the fences.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
We have to be very careful about how we treat brothers and sisters in Christ. We can always find a verse here or there to condone poor actions or to condemn people, but we are admonished to be far more mature than this.
The onus is on the more mature to walk in love and, for a while perhaps, even cover the sins of those who are immature, with a mind to bringing them out as they realise their error and repent with godly sorrow. You can’t force repentance. It has to be realised. It has to be real and heartfelt.
This doesn’t mean we condone sin, or don’t point out error, but, rather, that we consider what we say and how we say it so that we are setting people free, not binding them, rejecting them, or condemning them. ‘Love covers a multitude of sins’, says Peter.
And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8
Above all things, he says, have fervent love for one another. Fervent, ektenes, meaning ‘stretched out, without ceasing, earnest and assiduous, showing great care and perseverance’ love. Again, this is given as a criteria for discipleship.
Yes, we are advised to test every spirit and warn people of error, but setting up a ‘ministry’ with the express purpose of tearing down people with any scrap of controversy to our own position is merely sowing discord and is very unhelpful to the cause of Christ.
Without question, love defines a disciple of Christ. It is imperative that we learn this and live by it. We are saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is of God and not of ourselves, but it comes with the powerful endowment of love, which we must not allow to be tainted by the darkness of hatred for the brethren.
In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.
Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.
He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
1 John 3:10-16
The world hates us. We are commanded to love one another. Therefore Dave’s assertion is proven correct by the Word on several levels. Chookwatcher is clearly wrong about this, and has dismissed the commandment of Christ to love one another as He has loved us.
This love walk includes our attitude to those who speak out against us without just cause, but who claim to be of Christ. This is the hardest thing to come to terms with, because our natural reaction often is to want to fight back against those who spitefully use us. But love is greater and bigger than our own emotional scars. It is the healing salve of the broken heart.
If we reject love’s power to release others from the hurt and offence sometimes poured on us by those we should be able to trust, we will not allow the power of love to heal our own broken lives. If we do not forgive, God is unwilling to forgive us, says Jesus.
If we do not love our brother or sister in Christ we abide in death.
Jesus laid down His life for us. He did it for us all.
Chookwatcher has stated that the Bible flatly opposes the view that believers are to love one another and that this defines them as disciples and separates them from the world. I hope that they will see the error of this claim as they read through these and many other scriptures which confirm what Dave was saying.
Meanwhile, regardless of what they say about us, we need to be able to walk in love with those who oppose us and stick to the true walk in the Spirit.
*screenshot of comments made 15/11/14