The more convinced we are of the exclusive claims of Jesus—that he is the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father except through him—the more inclusively kind and compassionate we will be.
Excerpted from Befriend: Create Belonging in an Age of Judgment, Isolation, and Fear by Scott Sauls
The prophet Jeremiah writes that the heart has great potential for self-deception. We can be accomplishing good things in life and be doing all the “right things”—attending church, serving in ministry, studying Scripture, praying daily, feeding the hungry, helping the weak, preaching solid theology, correcting bad theology, leading people to Jesus—but still be missing the mark.
When writing to the Corinthians, Paul boils it down to this: love for God is verified by love for neighbor.
In Corinth, neighbor-love had been hijacked. Church members were judging each other, dividing over minor doctrinal issues, committing adultery, suing each other, divorcing without biblical grounds, parading their Christian liberty before those with tender consciences, ignoring the poor in their midst, and drawing lines around the Eucharist that were tighter than the lines drawn by Jesus . . . excluding from his table those whom he was passionate to include.
Instead of expanding their “us,” they narrowed it.
How does Paul confront the Corinthians’ inconsistency and lack of love? In 1 Corinthians 13 he paints a vivid picture of love, that stunning, ever-inspiring catalog of attributes—patience, kindness, humility, generosity of spirit, preferring others, a peaceful demeanor, love for truth, readiness to bear and believe and hope and endure all things. Paul didn’t have weddings in mind when he wrote this. This is actually one of the sharpest rebukes in the Bible, because the attributes of love described everything that the Corinthians were not.
When you come together as a church . . . there are divisions among you . . . factions. . . . When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper that you eat.
1 Corinthians 11:18‑20
But when love is in the air, everything changes. When love is in the air, divisions and factions fade. When love is in the air, we are moved to expand our “us.” When love is in the air, the Supper becomes Love’s Supper again: the agape feast that welcomes all who believe, recline, and receive; the love feast that holds a seat for God’s workmanship from every nation, tribe, and tongue, for every hero with a decorated résumé and every sinner with a damaged one, for the affluent and the poor, the confident believers and the struggling doubters.
[They] muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Luke 15:2, niv
The more we walk the narrow path, the wider our communal embrace will be. The more convinced we are of the exclusive claims of Jesus—that he is the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father except through him—the more inclusively kind and compassionate we will be. The more attuned we are to Jesus’ bleeding love toward us, the more our hearts will bleed for those who don’t know his embrace.
Grace comes before ethics. No condemnation comes before the morality discussion. Kindness leads to repentance. Love—the broad embrace of Jesus’ narrow path, the supreme eulogy virtue—creates the most life-giving experiences you’ll ever be part of.
Is real friendship too risky?
We live in a world where real friendship is hard to find. Suspicious of others and insecure about ourselves, we retreat into the safety of our small, self-made worlds. Now more than ever, it’s easy to avoid people with whom we disagree or whose life experiences don’t mirror our own. Safe among like-minded peers and digital “friends,” we really don’t have to engage with those who can challenge and enhance our limited perspectives. Tragically, even the church can become a place that minimizes diversity and reinforces isolation.
Jesus models a much richer vision of friendship. Scott Sauls, pastor and teacher, invites you to see the breadth of Christ’s love in this book, BeFriend. Join Scott on this journey through twenty-one meditations to inspire actively pursuing God’s love through expanding your circle of friends.
Scott has met too many people whose first impulse is to fence off their lives with relational barriers that only end up starving their own souls.
Yes, it’s true: Real friendship is costly. Love does make us vulnerable. But without risk, our lives will remain impoverished.
Join Scott in BeFriend as he summons you toward diverse friendship that can enrich your life and, in the process, reveal a better version of yourself.
*Up to 75% off select Friendship titles until 9/1/19* Learn More HERE >>