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Love in the Family

1 John 3:14-15
We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. (NIVUK)

Cain did not love his brother Abel. Murdering him was shockingly wicked, and its deadly echo has reverberated down through the centuries (1 John 3:11-13). That dreadful act was an epic example of what it means to be against God's family and therefore against God.

By contrast, the believers who made up the Early Church found that, despite differences in background, ethnicity, language, culture and finances, they loved each other. They found they had a supernatural desire to share and give to people who ordinarily they might never have chosen as friends.

Yet there were some in the church who did not love like that. They deeply resented some members of the church and tried to influence other people in the church against them. It was a sign that although they were in the church they were not in Christ. They were harbouring the 'spirit of Cain' in their midst. Such people were not spiritually alive but remained under condemnation: whatever they may have said about Jesus they were not trusting Him alone for their salvation (John 3:18-21).

It is good to check ourselves and observe the dynamics in the church to see that we are 'on-side' with God. The test is whether we have a desire for fellowship with those who the Lord has placed us among. The same test is for others too, whether they have a desire for fellowship. If they will not stay, they may never have truly belonged (1 John 2:19). Churches attract power-seekers and anti-Christs – they love the people who exalt them but do not love as Christ loved, sacrificially giving themselves wholeheartedly to others who are not like them, but seek to be like Christ. Take the test, and see how you measure up, before weighing up the dynamics in the local church.

Dear loving heavenly Father. Thank You for loving me. Forgive me for not loving my brother and sisters in Christ as I should. Please help me to love the people You love and rightly discern the people who do not have a gospel agenda. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams