When EJ and I were first married we bought a used TV. It was in a nice large (and heavy) cabinet and we thought it would look nice in our apartment. Well, we soon found out the reason it was traded in…the picture wouldn’t remain still. It would flip over and over, either vertical flips or horizontal flips. It had some adjustment knobs to correct the vertical and horizontal hold and it worked some. But I would get up, go to the TV, make the adjustment, get the flipping stopped–only to have it begin again before I got back to my chair. It was very frustrating to say the least. We had it worked on by the TV repair man. He put in new tubes (this was when TVs and radios had tubes) and it helped for a little while, but soon it was back to its old tricks.
I thought about this old TV the other day while reading the passages in 1 John about love for God and love for the brothers. Especially 4:20, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, who he has not seen” (NIV). John talks about a vertical love for God and a horizontal love for our brothers and sisters in the faith. Notice that if we sever our love for God, we also sever the love for our fellow man; and if we sever our love for our fellow man, we automatically sever our relationship with God. Both our vertical (with God) and horizontal (with our fellow beliervers) must remain intact.
I guess all this comes to my mind when I see how shabbly we Christians treat one another. Jesus, in John 17, says that if believers are one with Him and with one another, then the world will be able to make the judgment that Jesus was sent by God to this world. It just seems to me that we struggle with this “love business.” It doesn’t mean that believers can’t disagree over issues, but it does mean that their interpersonal disagreements are handled differently than the world handles them. I am amazed how believers talk to one another with such anger. Where is God in all of this?
Sometimes we treat our fellow believers as if they are the enemy. They are not the enemy! Satan is the enemy and he has a field day when he can influence us to turn on one another. Christians that don’t speak to other Christians–this cannot be in the Body of Christ. Christians who carry bitterness toward another Christan–this cannot be in the Body of Christ. If Jesus, while hanging on the cross, could forgive those who put Him there, surely we ought to be able to forgive one another.
How many churches have lost their testimony in their community because the members harbor bitterness against other believers in their church? If the love of Christ compels, then the anger/bitterness of Christians for one another certainly repels.
Let’s take some time to check our vertical and horizontal holds (relationships). You may not like me (an emotion), but you have to love me (an act of faith)!