How To Have Jesus’ Own Affection For Those Who Are Very Different From Us

The first real Christian meeting I attended was at a retreat center in the middle of rural nowhere.

I came in, a rock n’ roller, black tee-shirt, long hair and beard, and was greeted by an older gent with slicked down short hair, black horn rimmed glasses, and plaid shirt, extending a calloused farmer hand saying, “Praise the Lord, Brother!”

“Uhhhhh, yeah, Praise the Lord,” I mumbled weakly, withdrawing my hand. Not the kind of man I’d choose to hang around with. Little did I know, but not long after that Jesus would bring all kinds of different people into my life – and command me to love them.

God joins unlikely people together in his family. Before Jesus saved me I had a select group of friends, whom I deemed to be as cool as I thought I was. But Jesus builds unlikely stones together in his beautiful house, and gives them his own love for each other. Paul describes this love in his letter to the Philippians:

For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus (PHP 1.8).

Amazing. First of all, Christ feels not merely dutiful love, but warm affection for every believer. I used to think Jesus just endured me, much like I have to endure a cold. But the Bible says he’s filled with fond affection for me and all his people.

If Christ feels this way about his people, then so should I. I want to be like Paul, having Christ’s affection for EVERY saint, not just those like me.

The Lord puts odd fellows together. He must get a real laugh from the funny combinations, but his prime motive is his glory. It displays his glory when Beatle fans and Gaither followers, accountants and crane operators, home, public and Christian schoolers love one another.

It glorifies God because this kind of affection can only come from him – it’s Christ’s own affection. It’s Jesus loving through us. It’s supernatural. I regularly ask Jesus to fill me with his own affection for my brothers and sisters, because I can’t do it on my own. And I’ve seen him do this for me increasingly.

Before Christ saved me, I sought to surround myself with people like myself – that’s easy to do, but pretty boring when you think about it. I’m so grateful Jesus has built me together with people very different from me, then given me his own affection for them. How rich I am in Christ.

Ask Jesus to give you his own affection for his people. Especially those who are not like you. Those who may be harder to love. Those who require more patience. Those who see things differently than you do. If we ask he’ll give it to us, because it’s his will that we love one another for his glory.

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Mark Altrogge

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.

5 comments

  • For the most part I really understand we are to love like Jesus “unconditionally”. However [bet you saw that coming] what do you do with the Christian know-it-all who has the absolute right answer for every situation and has his interpretation of the scripture to be followed. To his credit he is very well learned but lacks humility in his delivery. I have prayed that God would change the way I feel toward him and His answer seems say “I know, be patient”.

  • i love the thought of us all and as different as could be . Thank you Stephen, wonderful !

  • So very true. I often look at my new Christian friends and think what a bunch of wonderful misfits we are. Then I consider who Jesus chose to disciple, an incredible bunch of misfits as well.
    From aging hippies to pristine peaches how I love them all and the indivuality they bring to my life.
    A blessing to be graced with such texture.

  • Hi yes I agree with you one hundred percent but the bottom line is will we allow the spirit to lead us we can love the most difficult people I’m quite sure if people can see we’re difficult and some type of way so I try to remember that goes to me by the grace of God so I tried to give everyone Mercy just as well as I would want it for myself not that it always happen that way but at the end of the day I gotta remember I have to give an account for myself not for others but solely for myself even though I’ve been married 35 years have four children 10 grandchildren when it comes to that day to face the father I have to do it on my own so yes I’ve learned even through my family to love the most difficult people to God be the glory and all that will be accomplished in my life it would only be by his grace his mercy and his love he paid the ultimate price for me and you and all the difficult people at the cross it was nailed so let’s leave it there and pursue God the way God want us to pursue him and everything else will fall into place take care have a wonderful day in Christ your sister in Christ Jesus .

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