But how should these points work themselves out into the lives of followers of Jesus? Let me suggest some ideas:
- They show themselves in love.
”Loved ones, if God loved us this way, we ought to love each other too” 1 John 4:11. The result of receiving God’s love is love for one another.
- They require that we place love first.
This is controversial, because there are so many Biblical tests of doctrines and teachings. But I will suggest that God-like love is the first test. “Loved ones, Love one another, because love is from God. Everyone who loves has experienced divine birth, and knows God. Anyone who doesn’t love doesn’t know God, for God is love” 1 John 4:7-8. The heretic under torture knew God better than the inquisitor, no matter how wrong or right doctrinally either of them was.
- They require that we seek relationships.
Lonely Christianity is not an option. I don’t mean routine church services each week with formal greetings in the few minutes provided by the order of service. I’m suggesting long term, deep relationships with people you care about and who care about you. I mean seeking relationships where you don’t have them. I mean seeking relationships without an ulterior motive. Don’t go out making relationships in the hopes that the person will go to church with you and become a Christian. Seek relationships because you care, and because you enjoy that God-like activity. You are never more God-like than when you open your heart’s door to another person. The more different they are, the more God-like that action is.
- They require that we treat others with respect.
God respects our choices, even when they are totally wrong and destructive. This is something that is very hard to grasp, because it seems to us that it would be so much better for God to protect us completely from hardship. But God respects our choices instead. As a parent of a teenager, this was very difficult for me. How can one allow the teenager to make choices, especially ones that you know are going to hurt? Can you stop him from experiencing the results of his choices? Sadly, but correctly, you cannot.
- They require that we be willing to go to extremes.
I like to call myself a passionate moderate, and going to extremes is something that I don’t find easy to do. When I do feel that I’m on an extreme, I start to defend myself. But Jesus was willing to go to the extreme of death on the cross to open a relationship with us. He was willing to be despised for the people he associated with. But he didn’t let it bother him. He kept right on moving. I’ve experienced condemnation for people that I associate with, but I must admit that I am nowhere nearly as willing to be at the wrong place according to popular opinion as Jesus was. But that’s the divine example we have been given.
Henry Neufeld, Not Ashamed of the Gospel, p. 32-33