Last week, we wrote about three ways early Christians flipped the Roman world “right-side up” by the 4th century:
- Separation from the world
- Unconditional love for others, especially each other
- Childlike obedience to God and His Word
If Christians act like this again, our nations’ spiritual and moral condition will brighten quickly.
We’ve already highlighted their separation from the world – how believers lived like chocolate chips in the cookie dough of culture. Today, we’re talking about love – because love won then and still wins today. And, no, we don’t mean today’s redefinition of love that removes all standards – we’re talking about Christ-like love that’s possesses both compassion and standards.
The earliest believers were taught by Jesus’ life, when he refused to condemn the woman in caught in adultery (compassion) and yet commanded her to leave a lifestyle of sexual unfaithfulness (standards): “Go and sin no more.”
They listened to Paul, when he taught the Romans, “Love must be without hypocrisy; hate what is evil, cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9).
The were taught in Corinth that love “does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6).
They learned from John, “Let us not love with words or speech, but in actions and with the truth” (1 John 3:18b).
Because Christ-like love possessed both compassion and standards.
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Early Christians wouldn’t recognize today’s version of love, one that is devoid of moral standards, righteousness and truth. Can you imagine what Jesus or the Apostle Paul would’ve said to a man in the church who left his wife and two small children for another man and demanded they fully embrace it?
Yeah, Jesus fully embraced sinners, like the woman caught in adultery, but He refused to embrace sin – because her way of life was without moral standards, and He loved her enough to say it.
This is the true love of the early church.
Standing on this proper foundation, early believers truly lived this love and attracted the entire world.
They loved their friends: “Greater love has no man than this; to lay his life down for his friends” (John 15:13).
They loved their spouses: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).
They loved other believers: “Above all, love each other deeply, for love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
They even loved their enemies: “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting anything back” (Luke 6:35a).
Can you imagine living back then, in a time when most love had grown cold, and then boom! – a group of people loving like this hit the scene? It must’ve been amazing. And despite horrific persecution against them, they just kept on lovin’ while refusing to bend God’s standards.
We can still do this today – and we should!
At the end of the day, only a few things will matter. All the Twitter followers, Facebook friends, money in the bank, accolades earned, you name it won’t amount to anything if we don’t walk in the love of God.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
If we want to see our nation flipped “right-side up” we need to return to the one true God and live out His one true love.
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