The Character of Christian Community, Part 2.

We are studying the third section of Romans 12. When people are transformed by grace (Romans 12:1-2) and functioning well in the body of Christ (Romans 12:3-8), we are able to love each other as God intends.

Holy Love (Romans 12:9)

Last week, we studied the holiness of our love among Christians. Our love is to be unfeigned and genuine. It is to hate evil and sin while embracing everything that is good. These are very strong words for "hate" and "embrace" or cling.

Relational Love (Romans 12:10)

Making disciples is best done in the rhythms of life. The essence of discipleship is shepherding and walking together, not merely academic study and instruction. The word "devoted" means a life commitment. Brotherly love is exercised in the context of using our spiritual gifts (see the previous section). We thrive in Christ's community together.

The place of relational love is the local church. The object of our love is those people who make up the church. The truth of God's Word shared among these people builds more Christ-like character. The pursuit of relational love is to avoid preferential treatment.

Philippians 2:3-4 instructs us to consider others above ourselves. Every believer is as equally saved as we are and has been given an equal measure of Christ's righteousness. It is a privilege to serve each other. We should never display pride or arrogance.

"When we consider better, accord recognition, or show appreciation to another believer, you do these things to directly demonstrate Christ and his character in our local community. Considering all believers better than us as individuals at all times is only though a responsibility that God's grace can help us fulfill." This spiritual discipline is learned.

Passionate Love (Romans 12:11-12)

Be careful not to read this list of imperatives and think it is about being busy. These many commands are done simply when put in the right order. They are how we know that our love is maturing.

Though not emotive, our love for other Christians is objectively passionate. It is based first in faith, then in fact, which influences our feelings.

Our passionate love is seen in our service in the local church (verse 11). We will show zeal, not laziness, in using our spiritual gifts when we are Spirit-governed (see verses 3-8). In our service, God is the only one exalted.

Our passionate love is seen in our relationship to the world (verse 12). Our hope is in Christ's return (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11). That is the reason we keep rejoicing (2 Corinthians 4:13-18). We persevere through tribulation and become stronger under pressure. Finally, we have a life-long commitment to prayer (Luke 18:1-8).

Application Points

  • Christ's final words should be our first priority. He told us to "make disciples" in Matthew 28:18-20. Is this your priority? Is your love for believers relational?
  • Our hope should make us the happiest people around! Do other people know you as continually rejoicing?