>We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 1 John 3:14

We have focused so much on our “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ that I believe we have forgotten that our faith is always in the context of community. There is a place to talk about a personal relationship with Jesus. For people who are caught up in the religion of Christianity or who depend on the church for their salvation, we need to emphasize that following Jesus is not a religion, but a relationship. But, have we made our relationship with Christ too personal?

If I have a personal relationship with Christ, and yet it doesn’t affect the other relationships around me, something is awry. If I am a great Christian in my head, yet others see very little evidence of Christ in me, there is a problem.

According to John’s letter, the evidence of passing from death to life is that we love our brothers and sisters in Christ. That doesn’t mean that we like everything that they do, but that we love them no matter what. Our connection to Christ produces something far deeper than the conditional relationships of this world. When fellow believers hurt us or otherwise misbehave, we must remember that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).

We have an enemy that wants to divide us and pit us against each other. He wants to create as much disunity as he possibly can. And, he will use every means possible, including our own selfishness, to keep us apart.

If you love Jesus, but you can’t stand His followers, then Jesus has a lot more work to do in you. Other people can do some pretty outrageous things in the name of Christ. I don’t like some of those things either. But, what’s going on in them? What’s their story? What do they misunderstand? What do they not know?

What fellow believer are you struggling with right now? I would encourage you to spend some time with them, not to take the issue head-on, but just to get to know them. The monster that you’ve created in your head is not the person who is sitting in front of you.

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