One of the greatest relationships I have had has been one with a brother who was a Jewish believer. I recall when we sat down and talked about the Holocaust tragedy. The Holocaust was a tragic event, where millions of lives were lost and left a permanent scar on the World. What has been most valuable is that even though I was not directly affected by the Holocaust, I was still able to come to grips with the horror and hurt of lives affected. I didn’t quite understand, yet I saw what it did to my friend. It broke him down to tears.

All I knew was that he was my brother and I had a great love for him. I wish I had the right words to say, however, all I knew was to be there and encourage him with scripture. A question that has come to mind has been do we truly love our brothers. If Christ commands us to love one another, then what are some ways that we can demonstrate that love to our brethren and develop genuine relationships?

Loving Involves Listening

James 2:19 – “Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”
For lack of better words – be quiet and listen! It is when you truly love someone and want to grow in a deep relationship with them that listening must take place. What I have found is that instead of asking and learning about one another, we tend to want people to be shaped into our image. They should fit into our culture, by talking and walking like us. How do you find out about someone if you don’t listen to them? Hear their hearts by what comes from their lips. Discover their uniqueness in how God has created them. You’ll never know a person fully if you don’t listen to them.

Loving Involves Learning

Proverbs 1:5 – “A wise man will hear and increase in learning.”
In a marriage relationship, couples should spend the rest of their lives learning each other because they love one another. This same application should be applied to our other relationships as well. Now, of course, there will be a difference in the level of intimacy a married couple shares as opposed to singles, but a way in which true love takes place is learning about others. Learn about their background, where they come from, and how they grew up. Show interest in someone else besides the one who looks just like you. Pray that the Lord helps you to learn about the person; pray a genuine relationship will develop. The way we grow as a community depends upon how well we step outside of our comfort zones and learn about one another.

Loving Involves Life

Acts 2:42 – “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
Fellowship is key because a true community does life together. They meet together, pray together, open scripture, have coffee and eat meals. This is true fellowship: loving a group of people, learning about one another, and listening to one another. This is the true body of Christ. Are we willing to do life together? Are we willing to go deep with someone else and learn from them? I believe we don’t understand other people and cultures because we are not willing to be loving by seeking them out and staying.

Hatred continues to dominate this world. But, Jesus stressed the two greatest commandments of loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself. One thing we find from Scripture is love always tells people the truth. Love does not exclude the sins of a brother, but exhorts and prays for change. Love includes relationships. I think that we are afraid of love because the word has been hijacked to mean something other than what Christ has intended. God is love and love is self-sacrificial. It’s so interesting how we can become so infatuated with the knowledge of God, yet forget how to love our brothers.

The question becomes is the acquired knowledge we have truly knowledge about God or just intellect that will puff our heads and have us looking down upon others? Do we truly love? I learned that is easy to hate because hatred comes natural. It is embedded in our sinful nature. It is harder to go beyond our comfort and love someone else, especially when they don’t have the same background or come from the same culture. And it is only through the Gospel of Jesus Christ that you can learn how to truly love. Remember to love one another.

Here are some great books on relationships and community:

  • Compelling Community by Mark Dever and Jamie Dunlap
  • Side by Side by Ed Welch
  • True Community by Jerry Bridges
  • Life Together by Deitrich Bonhoffer