Friday: Let Brotherly Love Continue
“After the descent of the Holy Spirit, … [believers] rejoiced in the sweetness of communion with saints. They were tender, thoughtful, self-denying, willing to make any sacrifice for the truth’s sake. In their daily association with one another, they revealed the love that Christ had enjoined upon them.
By unselfish words and deeds they strove to kindle this love in other hearts. …
But gradually a change came. The believers began to look for defects in others. Dwelling upon mistakes, giving place to unkind criticism, they lost sight of the Saviour and His love. They became more strict in regard to outward ceremonies, more particular about the theory than the practice of the faith. In their zeal to condemn others, they overlooked their own errors. They lost the brotherly love that Christ had enjoined, and, saddest of all, they were unconscious of their loss. They did not realize that happiness and joy were going out of their lives and that, having shut the love of God out of their hearts, they would soon walk in darkness.
John, realizing that brotherly love was waning in the church, urged upon believers the constant need of this love. His letters to the church are full of this thought. ‘Beloved, let us love one another,’ he writes; ‘for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.’” — Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, Pages 547, 548.
I think that if you have not already done so, you should read today's lesson study carefully. It is an eloquent summary of not only this week's lesson but the whole quarter's study. We often study the book of Hebrews in an attempt to understand the theology of the paradigm shift from the earthly to the heavenly sanctuary. While this is important, it is also important to realise that for the great multitude of unbelievers, the notion of a heavenly sanctuary is meaningless gobble-de-gook. They cannot see heaven; they do not believe in the supernatural; they only believe what they can see, feel and measure. For the truths we believe in to be meaningful to them, they must see those truths lived out in our lives.
I have said on a number of occasions previously, that if Christ has not risen in our lives then he may as well not be risen at all. That is the reason why our sense of community is so important. Not just with fellow church believers, but with those who are within our horizon of influence. If we share the unselfish love of Christ with one another then others will see Christ in us. Our community has to be a sharing one.
I have mentioned that I have become involved with U3A, this is a secular organisation where we work together to provide social interaction and educational experiences for the older generation (that's me!). It is a very collaborative environment where people share their knowledge and skills with one another, not as masters and students, but as fellow learners. We would do well to understand the dynamics of interaction in such a group. I am not saying that U3A is perfect. I'm on our local committee and see some of the imperfections.
The importance of community interaction in our churches should not be underestimated. When I was a child our local church was the centre of our social life as well as our spiritual life. We had socials together, went on picnics and outings together, we helped one another with our haymaking, and so on. Nowadays, the dynamics have changed somewhat and we spend much more time as individuals and it is often difficult to get group activities going. That is perhaps one area we can work on to "let brotherly love continue." When others see us as a loving caring community they may feel the sweet influence of Jesus calling them.
Now, I need to sit down and reread the book of Hebrews in one sitting and see the big picture.
U3A sounds interesting ....
Is there one in north Florida ?
Thanks for the info - 👍🙏
I am not sure if there is a U3A in North America. It is quite possible that it is called another name there. Essentially it is a movement to encourage older folk to socialise and keep their brains active. It is a "by the people for the people" organisation. Our local U3A run a lot of exercise courses - eg Balance and Bones, Walking the Lake (Macquarie), social activities - eg Men's Breakfasts, French for travel, various computer classes and so on. I run a Bird Observation and Photography activity, where we essentially wander around in the bush looking for birds. I have to say that I find my interaction with the people in our group enormously enjoyable. And it great to just interact with people with similar interests.
Thanks Maurice ...
I did some research on finding a local U3A and apparently it's mostly in Australia and the U.K. However, there is an online version that covers educational topics.
I believe the best way to develop brotherly love is to continually meditate on the love of Jesus Christ for us.
These are the 3 verses from the book of Hebrews which I believe sum up the book's message and on which I will meditate.
Therefore Jesus Christ is able, once and forever, to save to the uttermost those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it pierces even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight; everything is uncovered and exposed before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
Now Jesus Christ has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
Just as man is appointed to die once, and after that to face judgment, so also Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await Him.
I don't believe God is leading *us* as a *group* on earth, in earthly vessels.
The book of revelation shows the diversity amongst 7 literal churchs that showed 7 different messages to each one.
I guess it depends on the defination of a group. !?
IF It's a governing body, lording over a denomination like a pope, that's not scriptural and is dangerous !
If it's the Holy Spirit locally in diverse places, addressing issues, thats a possibility !
First century Christians had a split between Paul in Antioch and the apostles in Jerusalem. Acts 15, Galatians 2
It is also evidence in the circulating letters that are in the New Testment.
Obviously Paul was God's messenger to the Gentiles,
the letter from James was addressed to 12 literal tribes of Israel scattered about.
Peter was also addressing Jewish Christians in his opening remarks.
Jude was addressing those who knew the history of Hebrews Scriptures aka Jews.
The letter to the Hebrews, shows great insight of comparing shadows to reality and some bible scholars believe it was Apollos, who was an Alexandrian Jew, from the school in Alexandria, that wrote that letter to Jewish Christians who were turning back to judism.
Collectively these letters give us greater insight for Godly living.
In Christ 🙏
Like Ellen White’s excerpt and Maurice’s example show, there is no replacement for practically expressing the Faith of Christ. No matter how long we study or meditate on the intellectual aspects of faith, it does not come alive until we put it into practice.
My entire focus is now on the *Way of Life in Truth* - the Truth taught to man by Christ Jesus; His teachings, His directives for everyday living in order to be the example for non-believers to be drawn to the 'Faith of Christ' as exemplified by the loving brotherhood of all believers.
The faith-children's entire life ought to reflect clearly the teachings of Christ Jesus, its unmitigated acceptance of Him who created us in His/Their Image to first and foremost be a brother and sister in Christ, partaking together of His spiritual food to help us maintain by faith the living body of Christ.
I believe that we need groups or church fellowship as much as we need personal connection with Christ. No man is an island. God leading as a church group is as important as leading us as individuals. If you read chapter 54 of Acts of the Apostles you will see what happened when they did not let God lead as a group. Finding fault, unkind critics, due to letting a personal relationship with Christ slide. And due to body parts not working together in love and harmony. As Shirley and Bridgitte pointed out, the way to brotherly love in the church, is personal connection with Christ. Having the Love of God in you first. Then we can also be lead by God as a group, which is important to fulfill the will of our Father.
Now speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—
from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
The entire lesson has been a wonderful encouragement for me. Of course, I love the book of Hebrews. After embarking upon a practice of reading a book, mainly those that can be done as such, in one sitting and gaining a comprehensive grasp of the book, Hebrews simply came alive. I entered the church when the battle over what apartment Jesus entered upon His ascension was at a fever pitch and the debate had me seeing only bits and pieces apart from their whole. Having seen the whole I realize how we asked the wrong questions in Hebrews as the book was not written to answer what apartment Jesus entered. I am enriched by this last lesson, and the last chapter of Hebrews, in the focus on communal reality, not individualistic salvation.
The Word of God admonishes that we do not forsake the fellowship of believers in Christ. Those who believe the unadulterated Word of God understand that the work of salvation is already accomplished in Jesus Christ sacrifice. Hence, we cannot ‘achieve’ salvation through works. We ‘live’ the righteousness of Jesus Christ, building each other up in the faith. As iron sharpens iron so we exhort and build each other through the ministry of our gifts in service to God, to each other and the light of Christ to the world…’not of works lest any man should boast’