When we come to faith in Christ, we become part of a family. God is our father, and all Christians become our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is a wonderful spiritual truth. In practice, it packs all kinds of personalities around the dinner table. Just think of the apostles. Jesus called fishermen, a tax collector, and a zealot to follow him. If it weren’t for Jesus, these folks probably never would have chosen to be in one another’s company.
The same can sometimes be true of the church. By grace we have been bound to Christ. By that same grace we have also been bound to one another. How are we to act in this new family? Love is the keyword. In Romans 12:9, Paul tells us that our love for one another must be sincere. He goes on to say in the following verses that we should be devoted to one another, honor one another above ourselves, share with and care for those in need, and practice hospitality with one another. More than these, we are to share in one another’s lives, rejoicing with those who rejoice and mourning with those who mourn, live together in harmony, and freely associate with people who aren’t like us. In Romans, that last part has to do particularly with people of different social statuses. These directives preclude conceit and call us away from pride. Part of being added to God’s family is welcoming and loving all the others at the table.
Imagine what happens when we actually live this out. We are accustomed to thinking of personal witness, meaning that our personal lives should point to the gospel. Here we learn that there is also a community witness, meaning that the way the church exists together should also point to the gospel. When we truly love one another – when we are for one another – we bring heaven into our own midst and show the world what heaven is like. To put that differently, we bring grace to one another and show grace to the world.
Praise God for making us part of his family! May he empower us to love one another as he loves us.