Faith, Love, and the Watching World

In II Peter chapter 1, the apostle highlights some of the qualities of the fruitful life with the bookends of faith and love.  We wrote about faith last time.  Today, we want to concentrate on love.  Some writers see the list of II Peter 1:5-7 as a progression, starting with faith and continuing step-by-step through virtue, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.  In this view, love is the ultimate goal.  Whether this list represents increasing maturity in the Christian life or not, we do know from the rest of the New Testament that love indeed is our highest goal.

Jesus taught it in the two great commandments.  Paul taught it throughout his letters.  In the book of I Corinthians, Paul elevates love as the final answer to division in the church.  He drove home the point in I Corinthians chapter 13 with his eloquent defense of love trumps knowledge, love trumps giftedness, love trumps good works.  John taught it in the great book on love, I John, as the natural outflow of our becoming the literal children of God.

Francis Schaeffer, in his book The Mark of the Christian, calls love, not only the tie that binds but the final apologetic for the church before the watching world.  He built the book around two verses and their context.  “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn 13:35) and, “…that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that you sent Me.” (Jn 17:21).  Dr. Schaeffer goes on to conclude, “Love – and the unity it attests to – is the mark Christ gave Christians to wear before the world.  Only with this mark may the world know that Christians are indeed Christians and that Jesus was sent by the Father.”

Finally, coming back to faith and love together, Pastor Dwight Edwards writes, “This combination [of faith and love] is what puts God on display most noticeably before the world – our radical dependency in an unseen God plus our extraordinary concern for other people (especially fellow believers).  Paul calls it ‘faith working through love.’ ” (Revolution Within).

One thought on “Faith, Love, and the Watching World”

  1. Love is also challenging. Selfless love is something that simply cannot be accomplished outside of reliance on God. Selfless love is a foreign substance in our world so focused on self-interest-based love.

    The resounding gong and clanging symbol that Paul speaks of seems sadly most evident when we are attempting to show off the faith, the knowledge, the virtue and the self-control without love.

    Love is also indisputably good even in the world’s eyes. I have yet to run into an atheist who has a problem with Christian love, thus it’s overwhelming presence forces folks to confront the cause versus complaining about the effects they don’t like.

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