The true test of our love for other Christians isn’t so much on how we love other Christians who we agree with on everything, but rather on how we treat and view other Christians who we don’t agree with on every area of the non-essentials.
How you respond to that person who disagrees with your doctrinal position; how you respond to that person who comes to a different conclusion on how you should educate your children or what premarital relationships should look like; how you respond to that person is the evidence and depth of your love in the local church. You see, if we just keep surrounding ourselves within the church with little subcultures – well, we’re the homeschooling group. We’re the courtship group. We’re the amillennial group. We’re this group. We’re that group. And anyone who doesn’t agree with you in those areas, although you do have union with them in Christ, that’s not good enough for fellowship anymore. I won’t let my kids be around anyone who doesn’t homeschool.
What are you teaching your children? That homeschool is more important than union in Jesus Christ. I think some of us are going to wake up one day and realize we put all of our hope and faith in educating our children at home. Homeschooling doesn’t save anybody. It’s Jesus Christ that saves. And I homeschool my kids.
Listen, I’m not implying that the love you have with the group of people you’ve surrounded yourself with, that hold to those same convictions – I’m not saying it’s not love. It is love. I think it’s love. What I want us to look at is this: But what’s the depth of my love? And Paul seems to think the depth of your love is revealed not with those you’ve gathered around yourself who affirm you all day, but the one who doesn’t see it the same way and how you treat that brother or sister is the reality of the depth of your love for the local church.
Let’s look at it in v. 4. Paul says, “Love is patient.” “Love suffers long.” Assumed in this first characteristic of love is offense. He assumes that there’s provocation here between two people. He assumes there’s differences and disagreements here. Why do we say that? Because know this, you don’t have to suffer long with people who agree with you in every point of doctrine and live out the same way you do. You don’t suffer with those people. You just sit around and affirm each other. Look how spiritual we are! Look how unspiritual they are. I don’t suffer long if you just build me up all day and agree with me in every area. That’s not suffering. But Paul says genuine love suffers long. Genuine love is revealed in the face of adversity; in the face of disagreement. So how long are we suffering with those who disagree with us or have offended us because they haven’t come to the same conclusions? Well, that’s the reality of the depth of your love.