Who is my Brother?

Psalm 119:63         TLB

Anyone is my brother who fears and trusts the Lord and obeys him.

In these confusing times, it is nice to have theological guidance from the one who is best qualified to teach us, the Lord Himself. It is so easy for humans to divide ourselves into cliques. In religious circles we call them denominations. The denominations work to help likeminded individuals worship God in patterns which agree with their personal philosophies, habits and even comfort. We are different but have similarities with others. We congregate around those similarities.

In today’s verse, God shows us the one similarity that is important to Him. We can overlook a great number of differences when we have this one in common; that we each love God, having given our trust and obedience to Him. Interestingly, this guiding principle leads us to communion with Jews as well as Christian denominations because they, too, love the God we love. So, it turns out that the real test for communion is love of the one true God. How we serve Him and how we worship Him is less important than our zeal for Him.

I have adopted this philosophy though not so much intellectually as organically. By that I mean that I really did not make a decision to believe this way. I simply found myself attracted to others who love God even if we don’t believe exactly the same. I am also learning that I do not have to persuade them to my way of thinking. The Holy Spirit is the teacher and is leading us all on the journey to full enlightenment. It is his responsibility to teach us. I may have some revelation another doesn’t, but they may have learned some things I have not yet learned. It is even okay to be wrong if you love Yahweh. Our Lord is revealing all truth to us bit by bit and will lead us all to the fullness of the knowledge of Him. The one thing God cannot do is mandate our love and devotion. The decision to love and serve Him is uniquely our own. Once that decision is firmly settled down in one’s spirit, the decision to love others becomes easier and easier.

You and I both have witnessed disagreement between Catholics and Protestants, between Jews and Christians, and disputes amongst Protestants. When I imagine myself sitting in the throne room, beside God looking down and witnessing these disputes, I do not perceive them as important. In truth, today’s verse is an excellent reflection of Jesus’ theology. When asked which was the greatest commandment Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Upon these two commandments hang the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22: 37 – 40). Jesus was teaching that all of the law and all the teaching of the prophets, the entire canon of law and the entire theological doctrine from the beginning of humanity until that very moment was contained in those two commandments. Jesus then went on to synthesize and express the entire law and doctrine of his coming and ascension, or the complete embodiment of New Covenant theology. He said, “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another,” (John 13: 34). This is the sum of Jesus’ theological argument. This is New Testament, resurrected savior theology. The rest of the New Testament is there to lead us to this revelation.

I am not Catholic, but I love Catholics. I am not Baptist, but I love Baptists. I do not cling to any one denomination, but if you love Jesus and if you revere God, then you are my brother and I love you. My job in God’s service is to teach but first, I must love. If you get a revelation because of something I have taught, fabulous! But, if you draw closer to Yahweh in your own relationship with Him because you have seen the love of God in me, Hallelujah! That is the glory of God.

Perfect Unity

Philippians 2:2             Passion Translation

So I’m asking you, my friends, that you be joined together in perfect unity—with one heart, one passion, and united in one love. Walk together with one harmonious purpose and you will fill my heart with unbounded joy.

Our one passion is the trinity – Jesus our Messiah, the Holy Spirit our guide and our Father. We are to be united by our singular passion rather than divided by our many ideas and doctrines.

This is, I am convinced, an end times message. Jesus is supposed to come back for his glorious church but we are anything but that at the moment. However, there are stirrings. Churches are beginning to throw off their denominational robes in favor of one love of the king. With one heart, united in love, we are to walk together. We have been divided by our ideas, by our thinking, but we were never called to join together in oneness of thought. In fact, our communion was never meant to be an intellectual conclave. We are supposed to lead with our hearts and through love, connect with one another and the father.

There are a lot of different ideologies in the Christian church. Even among one denomination we find many different, and even conflicting, beliefs. I have the thought that when we get to heaven and take to the Father all the things we have argued so vehemently about He will say to us, “You were all wrong.” It is natural for us to develop our own cognitive map about our faith and equally natural for those to have different shading from person to person. In fact, I like to say we are all congregations of one because I often think that there are no two persons who believe exactly the same. That is okay, especially in this age of the Holy Spirit because he is able to give you nuances of a particular scripture that would not apply to or be meaningful to me. Still, we can be united in one common faith, one common non-denomination, if you will, because of our singular passion, the love of Father, Son and Spirit. At the end of the day, that is all that really matters. Jesus said the whole of the law and the teachings of the prophets can be summed up this way, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF’” (Matthew 22: 37 – 39).

If you believe in Christ and love God then you are a friend of mine. And here is the good news, you are not responsible for what I believe. We can differ safely because we will not go to hell because of another person’s misguided doctrine. Our concern is to love one another in faith, not correct one another. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good theological debate and I can tolerate differences of opinion. We don’t have to agree, in fact, the questions are what make the conversation. If you believe exactly as I do, then what is there to discuss?

All of this is to say that we can safely come together in the unity of Christ. This is our calling: one God, one faith. That we do not agree on everything is of no consequence. We agree that God is wondrous to behold, worthy of our praise. Jesus is the Messiah, our beloved and together with the Holy Spirit, they are all working together for our benefit and our eventual life with them. It will be glorious and we can learn all the answers then, though, something makes me think we will care very little. We will just want to gaze upon the Father. So, let’s spend our energy on what is important, loving God, loving one another and accept each other is the same grace that our Father extends to us. This is the coming together of the body in preparation for the coming of Christ.