As Christians, we say we love evangelism, outreach, and mission work. We’ve embraced the Great Commission and recognize the importance of sharing the gospel with those who don’t know Christ. And though we don’t do it perfectly, we’re often pretty intentional about “go[ing] into all the world and preach[ing] the gospel” (Mark 16:15).
But when it comes to our brothers and sisters who sit with us in the pews on Sundays, we don’t always have the same level of enthusiasm, grace, or compassion. Though we ourselves are fallen and sinful, we are quick to cast judgment, throw darts, and speak snidely about those we believe should simply “know better.” We call them irreverent when we think their church clothes are too casual, or refer to them as stuffy and boring for always wearing suits. We play the game of “them vs. us” when it comes to music styles, and our sharp tongues make quick work when a fellow believer stumbles. It’s not pretty, and it’s not biblical.
In his article, “Both/And,” Daniel Darling reminds us that, “There’s no category in Christian discipleship that allows us to love the Lord and hate His people.” When answering questions from the Pharisees, Jesus made it clear that we are to first love the Father and then extend that love to others (Matt. 22:34-40). In 1 John 3:1, we’re reminded “how great a love the Father has bestowed on us,” so it only makes sense that He’d expect us to pass this love on to others in our family of faith.
As Darling points out, “America is a highly individualized nation—we pride ourselves on our independent spirit. Christianity, however, was never intended to be an individualistic faith.” We are, at our essence, a body (1 Cor. 12). The church is made up of people, and sometimes people are messy. We are broken, battered, bruised, and imperfect. We’ve got different political opinions, varying ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and we come from an array of family situations.
So as we strive to change the world for Christ, making His love and sacrifice known to the masses, may we never once forget that we must also love each other. After all, we were created to be image-bearers of the Almighty.
Read the full article “Both/And” by Daniel Darling in this month’s In Touch Magazine.