Baptism is such an exciting time because it’s a public declaration of one’s commitment to the most important and loving relationship – a relationship with our heavenly father and creator God. Not only that, but by belonging to God, we are also adopted into a greater spiritual family of Christian believers.
Here at St Andrew’s, I pray we can be an authentic community of believers who strive to love each other well according to how the Bible teaches us to love one another. As Paul taught the church in Ephesus, we should “speak the truth in love… to grow in every way… [and be] equipped” as a body of believers to build each other up (Ephesians 4:15-16).
Paul had high expectations of how the church should love one another. He isn’t talking about “fluffy” surface love that is only concerned about smiles and niceties. He’s talking about true and authentic love – the kind that is not afraid to challenge or speak the truth for the benefit of the hearer, even if that comes at a cost. I am of the opinion that we would all do well to learn from his deep and unrelenting love.
What might that look like in practice for us though?
Have no fear
Do not be afraid of tough love when it’s necessary (whether as a giver or as a recipient). When lovingly rebuked by a fellow Christian, remember Proverbs 27:5, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy”. And when you’re in the position of challenging a friend out of love, it can be daunting, but remember that it is the kind (and right) thing to do.
Know your source
Understand that the “truth” comes from the Bible (God’s words) and not yourself/your personal opinions. Before you confront someone, check your motives and ensure that it is in line with Scripture before acting too hastily. Another good way to test your motives is to also reflect on whether or not you’re enjoying conflict a little too much. Even if you are objectively “in the right”, that should make you question your intentions if you are constantly looking forward to conflict.
Let’s be real
Have realistic expectations and be patient because change can take time. Continue to pray for your Christian brothers and sisters, and encourage each other on a regular basis. A great way to do that is by being involved in Growth Groups and meeting regularly around God’s word to keep each other accountable.
It is so exciting that this baptism Sunday, we are able to formally welcome more brothers and sisters into our Christian family! My prayer for us all is that we will ever continue to love each other in spirit and truth. May we not only love each other when things are easy, but I pray that God will help us love each other so truly and deeply that we will not shy away even when things are challenging so that we can all persevere in our faith and finish this race well until Jesus’ return.