Difference between Love of Neighbor and Love for each other

Feb 10, 2015
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I have recently been reading several of the works of Francis Schaeffer. How Should We Then Live is a fascinating look at how Christian Philosophy developed over time, its struggle with humanism, and how it has been reflected in the arts, including architecture and the fine arts (painting, sculpture).

After being blessed by this book, I looked for more of his works, and came across The Mark of the Christian. In The Mark of the Christian, Dr Schaeffer draws a distinction between the commandment to love our neighbors in Matt 22:39 with the new commandment given in John 13:34.


Matt 22:37-39
“ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”



John 13:34-35
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another


The commandment to love our neighbors has always been part of God's law (see for example, Lev 19:16). But the Jesus explicitly labels this commandment 'new' and note the reason given in v35: so that “men will know that you are my disciples”.

According to Dr Schaeffer, if we fail to show a special love for other Christians, the unsaved world in justified in dismissing the whole message of Christ, since the outward expression that they are to see is not appearant.

More Later.
 

CoffeeDrinker

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God has speaking to me lately about walking in His love and showing His love to others. I get on here today and it seems everyone on here is discussing it, too. I guess this is confirmation back to me.

I hear the HS tell me things and then some times I wonder if I am hearing God correctly. Was that God speaking to me or was that myself imposing those thoughts.

Thank you for posting this.
 
Feb 10, 2015
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The question on my mind here is: How well do we exhibit Love of our spiritual brothers?

From my experience, it is truly a mixed bag.

Let me tell you about three pastors that I have, over the years been privileged to hear preach and observe in daily ministry:

[1]
The first was the pastor in my home town. A doctrinal controversy was brewing in the town dividing believers from believers. Many, particularly the youth (high school age & college) were deeply troubled, sometimes to tears about this. The pastor at the church I attended did two things: The first was to preach a series of sermons making the teaching of our church (and its larger denomination) clear, stressing the Biblical basis of that stance. The second thing was to invite a leading pastor from the 'other side' to come and have a joint discussion. The discussion was open to all who wished to attend. In order to highlight that this was not a presentation of the teachings at this particular congregation but a discussion among brothers, the meeting was not held in the sanctuary, but in the fellowship hall which was a large room where many events were held. There were a few moments where the strong emotions on both sides, each trying to get acknowledgement from the other but on the whole it was a very spirit filled night.

The point is that the pastor found a way to maintain the integrity of the teaching of his church while opening up more brotherly relations with other christian viewpoints. Although it did not do away with tensions, there was much less pointing fingers at opposing sides, and started a dialog between congregations.

[2]
The second pastor at a church I was attending a few years ago viewed any differing view as an attack on his beliefs. Several times in sermons, he noted a drop in numbers reported for a certain denomination (which happens to be the denomination of the first pastor). He attributed that drop in congregants to 'the judgement of God' because of who they allowed to become pastors. At another time, I was helping at an event when a car pulled up and asked the pastor where to find a particular church. I was very surprised to hear the pastor say “I preach against their teachings”. There was many things that bothered me there, not so much core teachings, but the manifestation of love was missing. I had hoped that I might be a part of some positive changes. I finally had to leave this congregation.

[3]
When I left that church, I started attending another church across town. This church had and amazing staff of preachers. Although I now live farther away, I still watch videos of many of their services on the web. The same doctrinal divide as the first pastor I mentioned was brewing there. The pastor heard some of the talk and grumbling. This pastor then gave a sermon on what constitutes blasphemy. The meaning he stressed was that to say that the works of the spirit are the works of the devil (or vice versa), either would be blasphemy. He then mentioned this controversy, and stated that although there are differences in teaching, the Spirit was moving across many denominations. He then said he had heard several people decrying the successes of the 'opposing' churches. He then reiterated the definition of blasphemy as ascribing the works of the God to the works of the devil. He then looked around the congregation with the sternest face I had ever seen on this Godly and loving man.

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The first preacher and the last preacher both showed great love and humility in facilitating better understanding among believers across doctrinal lines. They did this without backing off one step from their position, but did so without demonizing those who come to our Lord from differing viewpoints. The second held many doctrinal beliefs where I am in agreement, but failed to show any love for brothers in Christ.
 

CoffeeDrinker

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I think its wonderful when preachers can be honest and show their own vulnerability and humility in knowing we are all Gods children. I have strong views as i am sure you do as well, but i want to love everyone... even those who believe or think differently from me. thanks for sharing this. there are so many ways / variations in walking in Gods love. It's not always just being nice to others.. i like how you referred loving thy neighbors in regards to the church and the church family.

so many times the church is the hardest and has the hardest views.. meaning they seem so emotional about their own views and beliefs. i was talking to a christian not long ago during the holidays who is saved but but believes differently than me. her family doesnt l like discussing religion with her and some were scared when she and i started speaking in a corner of the room. someone then mentioned they believed i was the best one to discuss it with her because i am i am strong in what i believe but not judgmental. that was a compliment to me.

i am republican but have a great friend who is a strong democrat. i love her. we disagree but i love her. we discuss it and laugh but in the end i love her. same goes with other denominational folks / churches.

i do not believe God created denominations and different churches. i have another good friend from childhood who married a catholic and is now catholic. we have different views, but we love each other and walk in that love. you are so right.
 
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The one of the larger thesis of Francis Schaeffer's book is not that we need to exhibit God's Love for our own sake, or the sake of those to whom we are showing His love. The point is the issue our Lord mentions in John 13:35. It is so that non Christians can see the change in our lives by the Love we show to one-another, rather than the good works we may do in the community.

Dr Schaefer goes so far as to say that if non-Christians see us bickering, they will be justified in dismissing all the claims for Christ we may make. If His Love is not seen, then they may assume that our lives have not been affected. If His Love is not seen between us, than they may assume that Christ was never raised.

But the author does not take this to point to any kind of ecumenical movement. He says that the discussion of doctrinal differences is important, and as Christians it is our duty to Him and His word to address them forthrightly. It is just that our tone should not be of denouncing those with whom we disagree. It should be a brotherly discourse of what the scriptures say and how the Spirit has impressed the meaning on our hearts. We should not be so quick to assume that since we understand the scriptures to say one thing, that anyone understands something else must be wrong.

He stresses that we are to work for oneness, but not to assume that that is organizational oneness. At best, we may achieve organizational unity among like minded believers. But we will never attain organizational oneness.

Again, the reason stated in John 13 is so that those who are outside of Christ may see that we can remain brotherly while we discuss differences.
 
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i am republican but have a great friend who is a strong democrat.
I am becoming increasingly appalled at our political and social public discourse.

The founding fathers of the United States designed our government to require that we come together and discuss all sides of issues. The government is split into three branches so that they have to work together. The judiciary has nine justices so that a variety of views can be given hearing. The legislative branch is further split between house and senate.

One of the main reasons that a party will value the presidency is the chance to stack the supreme court.

But each party seems to think it is a disaster if they do not control the government. The party leadership will withhold funds from members ho do not follow the dictates of the leadership. Much of the maneuvering in congress is to keep real decision making away from the opposition. Once in a majority, if they think there is any possibility of not getting their way, they will suspend the rules use a simple majority to pass major bills.

One of the main reasons that a party will value the presidency is the chance to stack the supreme court.

By the way, I have most of my life leaned democrat, but I am truly disappointed in the leadership of all parties. They have left their core beliefs and concentrated on just acquiring and holding on to power. They give lip service to some traditional ideas, but bend them for political gain rather than adjust to benefit all people.
 
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