Checking Our Fellowship Thermometer

Checking Our Fellowship Thermometer

Hi, Everyone.

Greetings and peace in the name of Jesus.

As a small child we often recited verses from memory.  Memory work was always a challenge for me.  So, I would choose the shortest ones I could find.  You know the ones, “Jesus wept.”, “Rejoice evermore.”, “Pray without ceasing.”, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”, etc.

The circumstances wherein we now live have given me an opportunity to recognize something very precious.  Those attending services where I visit from time to time know I rejoice to see you.  I always considered it is because I love you, and by the grace of God, it is.  Yet, I confess the love was not as deep as I would like to believe it was.  Now that we cannot see you on a week to week basis around the Southwest District, SWD, that which I took for granted, that is of being able to see you at will, has been taken away.  Sure, I prayed for you, your ministries, your local churches and your families.  But now, now I see your faces in my mind and I want to see them in reality.  I want to look into your eyes and hear your voices.  I want to know if you are well or just okay or if you are facing some new difficulty in life.  I want to know how you are doing.

I wonder about my family in Christ.  Is the rest of my family like me?  Is their love shallow or deep?  Are they glad to see me arriving or does it make them glad to see me leaving?

As a people who profess to be disciples of Jesus Christ, sometimes called Christians, we should know what love is.  But if we do, does our day to day lives testify to it?  Unfortunately, too often I find myself checking the box of having Christian love and declaring, “Yes, I love my fellow disciple of Jesus Christ”, when in reality complete honesty would require me to declare, “Yes, I’m tolerating my brother or sister in Christ.”  Is tolerating someone the same as loving someone?  No.  There is a difference, isn’t there?  Fellowship is having shared interests, joys, concerns, rewards and sufferings.  Love is placing others above ourselves in those shared attributes.  Are we tolerating one another?  Or, are we loving one another?

But the commandment doesn’t say to tolerate one another.  It says to love one another.  Jesus gives the commandment this way.

John 13:34-35, NIV

34.  “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

35.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

The Apostle John elaborates about it in his first letter.

1 John 4:7-11, NIV

7.  Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

8.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

9.  This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

10.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

11.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

The Apostle Paul also discusses it with the Romans.

Romans 12:9-10, NIV

9.  Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

10.  Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

At this point you are expected to remember or locate the other texts the Holy Spirit is witnessing to you presently, like Psalms 133:1, Genesis 13:9, Matthew 20:26, Luke 14:10, Philippians 2:3, 1 Peter5:5, and others.

I write to you now because it helps me think of you.  You Pastors, Board Members, Ministry Directors, and other Ministry Partners are precious in the Lord’s sight and to the united work we are doing in the cause of Jesus Christ.  I’ve found out I do love you and it bothers me to not be able to be with you in your times of trials and celebrations.

Here is our challenge.  How can we move from tolerating one another to having love one for another?  How can we as SWD Leaders communicate that to the membership we serve?

The Holy Spirit will answer those questions for you in your unique setting.  When it does and you do it, share it with others.  Others may be struggling to understand some of those ways.

There are several things that always work in every circumstance.

1.     Be confident of your eternal assurance in Jesus Christ without anxiety

2.    Take time to greet everyone, especially the children and seniors

3.    Communicate, communicate, communicate

4.    Lead those you influence to strive for the reality of the Vision of a Vibrant 21st Century Church and Focus on Jesus and Follow His Plan.

The LORD bless you and keep you,

The LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you,

The LORD lift his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Your Fellow Servant in Christ Jesus,

Chip Hinds

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