My first encounter with members of the church of Christ was as it should have been. When I entered the church building it was obvious to me that they cared about each other, and also cared about me. In their love for the saved and the lost alike, they were carrying out an act of pure evangelism; they were obeying Jesus’ New Commandment:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
Years later, I visited a foreign church with a friend. When leaving he said, “There’s something missing in this congregation.” I automatically hurt for them, and later learned how accurate his observation had been. Apparently, the congregation was divided in two. One half being brethren who loved everyone and wanted unity and growth. The other half being malcontents who had love and respect for no one but themselves. Strangely, the second group, all claiming to love the church, were content to hold the congregation hostage to their hate.
The only people who want to join an unhappy church are people with unhappiness to share. The apostle John exposes the difference between those who love the brotherhood and those who hate it:
“By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:10).
Never are we more like our Saviour than when we love others as he loves us. Loving the brotherhood with this kind of love becomes the most powerful force we have to attract the lost to the church. It is also the most powerful force we have to insure unity and growth within the church.
“So these three things continue: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13ERV)