The central command of the Christian faith is love. Love is what sets us apart from the world and makes us beacons of light in the dark world. If we are going to be lights in the world we need to love.
In this passage we notice the writer of Hebrews encourages his readers to love their fellow Christians. It is through this love, he says, that we demonstrate our love for God. I find it very interesting that he states that we are to “minister to the saints”. After all shouldn’t we love everyone equally?
This is a valid question since we have been taught that God loves the world. I have no doubt that God loves everyone and He desires them all to be saved. The Bible tells us this much. The Bible is also very clear that we are to love other Christians first and foremost. So does this present us with a contradiction?
Perhaps we can find the answer by looking at our lives. A teacher can love all the kids in her classroom, but the love she has for her students pales in comparison to the love she has for her own children. A guy can love all his friends and buddies, but that love is nothing compared to the love he has for his wife. The fact that God loves the Church differently, and expects us to love other Christians differently, doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love the rest of the world, but simply points out the special relationship that the Church, and thus the Christian, has with God.
Remember that Jesus didn’t die for just a person, but Jesus died for a people. Jesus died for the Church, and that makes us very special to Him. We are God’s Children and we are the Bride of Christ and those two realities indicate that we have a special relationship with God.
This might seem unfair to those who are not Christians, but the reality is that when Christians love each other then that makes that Church very attractive. One of the reason the Church grows during times of persecution is because the outside world can witness the love Christians have for each other in time of suffering. Everyone desires that type of love. The world is a hard place filled with rejection and heartache. So many people are searching for a place to belong and place to be loved no matter who they are or what they have done. By loving each other, rather than bickering and fighting with each other, the Church becomes a place of hope in a land of hopelessness.
It also appears from this passage that by loving each other we grow spiritually. The best way we grow in our faith is by applying the truth of Scripture to our lives in the context of service and obedience. It is the experience of life that helps us understand that we can trust Jesus with our lives. Plus, when we are able to do things with other Christians because we enjoy their company and have their best interest at heart we begin to develop the heart of God. We desire the things God desires and we become spiritually sharp and full of passion.
It is by having this heart of God beating in our chests which helps us down the road of becoming the people God created us to be. When we care about the things He cares about we become a little more like Him. The people of faith of old were set apart because they had this heart. They were willing to sacrifice in order to do what God wanted them to do, because they wanted the same thing God wanted.
In our quest to become more like the people God wants us to be we have to start loving other people, first other Christians, and then the people around us. This is how we learn what is most important to God and allow that truth to become part of our hearts.