Bible studies for February 2003

Study 4: LOVE, FORGIVENESS AND FELLOWSHIP

John 13:34,35; Ephesians 4:32; Hebrews 10:35.



Life, in the final analysis, is about building relationships. Love, forgiveness and fellowship are the basic ingredients for building fruitful and rewarding relationships. Marriages have split, home, and hearts broken and great institutions fallen to pieces because of the absence of these vital ingredients that make way for fruitful relationships. God loved us (John 3:16), forgives us because of His Son (1 John 1:9) and stoops down to come add fellowship with us (John 14:23). He has given us an example to follow and we cannot do otherwise. Coldness, clashes, complaints, competition will characterize a church where love, forgiveness and fellowship are absent. It is our responsibility to diligently keep these ingredients active and vibrant in our church life (2 Pet 1:5-9).

THE MISSING INGREDIENTS IN CONTEMPORARY CHURCHES
John 13:34,35; 1 John 3:16-18; Jam 2:14-16; Eph 4:32; Matt 18:21-35; Heb 3:13; 10:25; Gal 6:1,2.


Many contemporary churches are merely conglomeration of individualistic and selfish people. These churches are like a pile of bricks that are of little use. Instead of the believers in these churches acting like bricks in a building cemented for functionality by love, forgiveness and fellowship, each has chosen to stand aloof and do his own thing. The world easily recognizes the artificiality of the smiles in these churches. Their hollow efforts in keeping fellowship results in borrowed courtesy rather than heartfelt greeting. These kinds of congregation are a little better than social clubs.

THE MASTERíS IMPRINT ON CARING CHURCHES
1 Cor 13:1-13; John 13:34,35; 15:9; Eph 4:32; Mark 11:25; 1 John 3:16-18; Jam 2:14-16.


Love, forgiveness and fellowship are the Masterís imprint for a truly great church. It is good to be large. It is better to be loving. It is best to be both. Godís love has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. Our lives must be characterized by love for all including those who hate and misrepresent us, forgiveness for the conscious and unconscious offenders and fellowshipping in unity without regard to class, clan, culture or clique. The ground is level at the foot of the Cross. Every member is esteemed and recognized for the grace of God in his life. Love is never suspicious of others, puts the best construction on any event, believes no evil of anyone without good evidence, is kind, considerate, selfless and sacrificial.

THE MIGHTY INFLUENCE IN CHRISTLIKE CHURCHES
Ps 119:105; 89; 97; |Is 40:7; 1 John 1:1-7; 2:3-6; John 20:31; Rom 15:4; 1 Cor 10:11; Ps 119:152; Matt 5:18' 24:35; Job 23:12; Jer 15:16; 1 Pet 2:2; Luke 11:28; Mal 3:16.


The Lord came from heaven, shows us the path to it and how to be heavenly on earth. Shallow and superficial will be the fellowship where the word of God is not central. Sentiment rather than love will rule, hypocrisy will masquerade as sincerity, gossip will take the place of sharing. When the word is central, natural differences are no barriers, the fiery darts of imagined wrongs will be no match for our shield of faith, sectarianism will be a forgotten by-word. God has exalted His word above His Name (Ps 138:2). The basis of loving relationship among believers is the word: preached and practised, loved and lived. Any relationship amongst believers based on a different premise will be patently false and flabby, imitation brass masquerading as pure gold.

BE A DOER, NOT A HEARER OR PREACHER ONLY!


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