In today’s world, it’s hard to tell what is real. A lot of things are downright fake. Fake news is a big political idea this month. Celebrities, and even regular people, put on faces and pretend to be what they are not. Coaches lie on their resumes. Criminals lie about what they did, and fake crime victims lie about what someone else did to them. The world is full of lies.
We as the church should not be fraught with lies like the world. Everything we do should be real and true. As the church, the bride of Christ, we should all want to be real, true Christians and to be as Christlike as we can muster. If we are not really Christians, what’s the point? Why are we here, and who are we following? He is the focus and reason for all we do. He is the reason why we are here. He is the foundation on which this world is built and on which it continues. That applies even more to the church. Wouldn’t it be really helpful if we had some kind of list of how to do that?
Fortunately, by God’s design, there are several descriptions of what makes a true Christian in the Bible. In Romans 12, starting in verse 9, Paul lists some of the marks of a true Christian and some of the commands real, true Christians will follow. If you check around, there are various other new requirements that people have come up with over the years, but don’t bother looking for those, because the ones people come up with on their own are non-biblical and often heretical, and based on that person’s preferences. Stick with the Bible, it’s what works because it’s what’s true.
The first thing that Paul mentions in this particular listing is love.
Romans 12:9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
As Christians, we are supposed to be like Christ. Christ is God, and God is love, so we should also be love. Real, true love should be the driving force of what we do. Paul writes about the importance of love in many other passages. For examples: 1 Timothy 1:5 “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and a sincere faith.” In 1 Corinthians 13:1 he writes “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” John also writes about love being a mark of a true Christian. 1 John 4:8 “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
So love is important for us. It should be an important part of our fellowship with one another, and part of our fellowship with Christ as a church. Genuine love should emanate from our love for God and impact everything we do. And it should be genuine, real, true, natural, not something we have to force ourselves to do. Love shouldn’t be something we have to manufacture or pretend to have. If we are loving one another with genuine, real, true love, and loving Christ with genuine, real, true love, and being like Christ who is love, then we can have peace that everything else we do as Christians will fall into the place God wants it to fall.