Finally, after over two months of being separated from each other, Trinity
Community Church partners will again gather corporately this weekend. We have
heard many speak of how deeply they have missed each other during these days.
Joy wells up in our hearts as we anticipate seeing each other this coming Lord’s Day.
First of all, we want to thank all of you for the mature attitude you have displayed
throughout the entire time we have been absent from each other. This has not been
an easy time for many of us, both financially and emotionally. Nevertheless, as
always, you manifested the spirit of Christ throughout this ordeal. Thank you so
much for your patience as well as the words of encouragement you have given the
elder team as we sought to pastor you during these unusual times. The truth be told,
we love pastoring you!
As we consider our coming back together, I want to freshly remind you of three
words the apostle Paul said in the great love chapter: “love never fails” (13:8, KJV).
In the midst of his instruction regarding the operation of spiritual gifts, Paul inserts a chapter describing the God-kind of love that should be the chief pursuit of every
believer. That’s because it’s not the gifts or even our faith that guarantees our
ultimate success, but exhibiting the God-kind of love that insures the truth of the
Gospel is fully affirmed. Jesus teaches his followers in the Gospel of John that such
love for one another not only benefits the church, but also the world as well, since
the church is always on display before a watching world (John 13:35).
Therefore, in light of our soon being reunited together, I want to briefly call
attention to three things regarding this divine love we would do well to remember.
First, is the fact that such love is natural to the believer; second, we are called to love those who have different convictions than us and finally, love is manifest by meeting practical needs.
It is easy to recognize this first aspect since God puts the desire to love in the heart
of every true believer. Paul reminds the Thessalonian church that he doesn’t need to say anything to them about loving one another, since they were already taught by
God to do so, and were actually doing it (I Thessalonians 4:9-10). You might say its
second nature to a believer to love their brothers and sisters. Telling Christians they
ought to love is like telling a bird to fly or a hog to wallow in the mire—they are
already hardwired to these functions. Believers have been given the innate ability to love the other members of the family. The apostle John makes several statements in his first epistle describing how God puts his loving nature into every believer when they are regenerated. Nevertheless, the apostle urges them to “do this even more” (4:10, CSB). This falls in line with all that the New Testament teaches about grace. God always first puts into our hearts what he expects out of us (Philippians 2:12-13). So no one is without excuse. If you are a believer, you are hardwired to love.
The second thing about this love in Scripture we should remember as we prepare to
gather once again is that we are called to love those with differing convictions. This is so important, an entire chapter of the Word of God is given to it (Romans 14). It is
relatively easy to love those who are like us and agree with us theologically, but we
are also called to love those who don’t. In the Roman church Paul was writing to,
there were both Jewish and Gentile believers. Jews observed things like the weekly
Sabbath, while many non-Jewish believers treated each day the same. Each one was
to be fully persuaded in their own mind how God would have them live. And they
were absolutely forbidden to force their personal convictions on others.
This applies not only to Jewish and Gentile believers and their differing religious
observances, but to contrary convictions believers have regarding how the Church
should respond to the Coronavirus pandemic. There are strong feelings on both
sides among believers regarding this issue. Some feel it is important to respect
governing authorities by cooperating with their request, while others are persuaded
that the pandemic was overblown and the government was using it to try to control
the Church. How do disciples of Jesus deal with these differing views? Again, the
answer is found in Romans 14 where Paul exhorts believers that “the faith that you
have, keep between yourself and God” (Romans 14:22). I am entitled to my personal
conviction, but I am not entitled to force it upon others.
The two first words describing love in the great love chapter are critical for life in a
community that puts love of others first: “love is patient and kind” (13:4). Great
patience and kindness goes a long way to create a loving atmosphere in the local
Finally, love is manifested by meeting practical needs. There is no clearer statement
about that in God’s word than I John 3:16-18:
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and e we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (I John 3:16-18).
We have had, and no doubt will continue to have great opportunities to meet
practical needs of our fellow-believers. Instead of entering into controversies over
how we should respond, let us look for ways to exhibit God’s compassion and love
for others. We are called to mirror our Master who laid down his life for us. We do
so by giving out of our abundance or serving others with our abilities. Trinity has
always done this well. And we urge you to do so more and more in the coming days.
So to sum it up: Remember, God has already given you the innate ability to love
others by giving you his Spirit. So exhibit that love by enduring those with differing convictions. And ask God to help you to recognize practical needs he’s calling you to
meet in the community. Practice these three things and we can be assured of success
because, “love never fails.”