1Jn 2:9-10 Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. (10) Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.
There are many statements of this principle in the Scriptures. Christians love Christians. By “love” I do not mean that they go to church on Sunday, slap on their happy faces, sing the happy tunes, and talk about how much everyone in their church just loves one another. Nope. I am talking about the real deal. Let me explain.
The fact is, and this is Bible truth, darkness hates the light. I have seen it played out in local churches over and over. And this is what it looks like. False Christians simply don’t like you. If you are born again, you are repugnant to them. I have found it very interesting that unbelievers who make no claim of Christ at all, are often much easier and more enjoyable to be with. Was that not the case with Jesus Himself?
Mat 9:10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples.
There is a real difference, which can be a bit difficult to explain, between professing Christians who genuinely love me (I will use myself as an example just for simplicity), and professing Christians who do not. It can be hard to spot or verbalized, but you can “feel” it.
Christians who are the real deal are like that old theme song from “Cheers.” They know your name, and they are always glad you came. I think this explains why Paul said this over and over in the New Testament: greet one another with a holy kiss. What he meant was, give expression to the genuine love that real believers have for one another. Don’t let your fellowship be superficial and don’t quench that love which the Spirit of Christ in you is producing. Today I suppose in our culture it wouldn’t be a holy kiss, but rather a “holy hug,” or something like that.
This test of love is the acid test. It is extremely revealing as to the authentic or false state of a local church or individual. Ask yourself, “do I feel loved by that person?” Because if they are really Christians, they will indeed love you.
Now, export all of these observations into the standard scenario that a domestic abuse victim experiences in a local church. She can ask herself, “do these people love me? Are they showing me mercy and kindness? Are they glad to see me walk in the church doors? Are they eager to help me?” The answer to these questions will reveal the kind of people she is really dealing with.
When I came to Christ Reformation Church 26 years ago, there were some 150 people present each Sunday. But for all of the hype, all of the back-patting and energetic chorus singing, for all of the talk about Jesus, in fact as I look back there were only 8 of them in that whole crowd who I realize genuinely loved me. The rest, well, they remained distant and eventually hateful. This had nothing to do with me as a person. It was not due to some failure on my part (even though the current church growth gurus of that day would have said I was the problem). No, the reason was that there were only 8 real Christians in that whole pack.
I have noticed over the years that I do not get invited to speak much at all at conferences or in churches. I have had people contact me who have been reading my books and blog and they frequently ask if I speak at many events. When I say “no, I can’t remember the last time I was invited to do so,” they act surprised. But I know the reason. Churches and “christian” ministries do not like to hear that a church of 150 people had only 8 real believers in it. They don’t like someone standing in their pulpits and saying that one chief reason for the prevalence of domestic and sexual abuse in the churches today is that most church members do not know the Lord. That throws water on their fire, you see. Nope, don’t want any of that.
That’s alright. I don’t like to travel that much anyway and it seems to me that the “christian” conference thing has often done more harm than good to the cause of Christ. I am not trying to elicit your sympathy (Oh, poor Jeff) but I am just using this as an illustration of the fact that the Bible says Christ’s true people are a remnant. We have often chosen to ignore that fact and instead we have equated big with genuine.
Christ’s true people love Christ’s true people. We hear the voice of the same Shepherd. We belong to one flock. We do not recognize the voice of a stranger and will not follow them.
Rom 11:3-5 “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” (4) But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” (5) So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.
A remant, chosen by grace. There is your real church. And you will know them because they will love you.