When I was in college, I looked down on pretty much everyone who wasn’t like me.
As an art major, I disdained business majors, because they were so uncreative all they could do was crunch numbers (I sure love numbers now though, especially when it comes to me getting a paycheck). I looked askance at all other majors actually. I even looked down on other art majors. I was a painting major, so I sneered at pottery majors, who weren’t creative enough to paint, so they made pots out of mud in the basement of the art building. Sculpture majors were a rung up the ladder, like a caterpillar might be above a garden slug. Yep, I was disgustingly arrogant.
Then Jesus rescued me.
Jesus puts unlikely characters together. He joins us to people we’d never choose for friends. I’m sure lots of those in our church wouldn’t have chosen to live their life with the likes of me, as likable as I fancy myself to be. But Jesus calls his disciples to love one another and gives them his own affection for each other when they ask him to.
For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus (PHP 1.8).
In the church artists are called to love businessmen, athletes are called to love computer geeks, geeks are commanded to love hunters, and hunters are called to love musicians.
This kind of care for others is not natural. This kind of love for those unlike us is the affection of Jesus Christ for his blood-bought people.
Jesus didn’t come to die for us because we were attractive to him or lovable. We were complete spiritual losers. There was absolutely nothing in us that God could desire. We were rebels, dead in sin, who had no interest in God. We were suppressing the truth in our unbelief, arrogance and unrighteousness. Yet despite our complete lack of anything worth loving in us, God freely gave his Son, who loved us so much he gave himself up for us. Now as his own brothers and sisters Jesus has a deep affection for us, even though we have many weaknesses and shortcomings, and he wants to give us his own affection for our fellow blood-bought brothers and sisters.
When you join a church, you aren’t joining a group of perfect saints. You’re joining a bunch of spiritual losers who are now new creations in Christ, whom Jesus is making into his own likeness more and more each day. But none of us have arrived yet. We are all at different places. Some of us are immature. Some of us are pretty weak. Some of us have real struggles in overcoming sin. Some of us don’t see our sin. Some of us have followed Jesus for years; others barely know what that means.
When you join a church, you aren’t joining a group of people with similar personalities, interests, or convictions. Some of us are outgoing; others are introverts. We have different takes on how to educate our kids. In other words, you are joining a group of people who are different than you. And though you may think you are lovable, you won’t find everyone in the church easy to love. But Jesus commands us to love one another, as he loved us and gave himself up for us. This doesn’t mean we just TOLERATE each other, we are to ACTIVELY LOVE one another, and have a BROTHERLY AFFECTION for each other – the affection of Christ Jesus.
We must ask Jesus to give us his own affection for our brothers and sisters. Before we go to the Sunday meeting or small group, we should ask Jesus to give us his own affection for the saints. Before you meet with that brother who offended you, ask Jesus to fill your heart with tender concern for him. Before you get together with that sister who can’t seem to overcome her sin remember you’re about to meet with someone Jesus yearns affectionately for.
How we need Jesus’ grace! Lord Jesus, fill your church with your love and affection for your blood-bought people. Help us to see our brothers and sisters as you see them and have your own care for them.