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“For this reason, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do your duty, yet I would rather appeal to you on the basis of love.” Philemon 8-9 (NRSV).
Paul encourages Philemon to consider his actions, basing them on love rather than law. Through Paul’s letter to Philemon, God calls us to make an intentional, disciplined decision to serve one another in love. Love, not duty, is the foundation of Christian community.
Duty reeks of force, compulsion and people-pleasing. It bolsters our pride; inflates our ego. However, love does not. Rather, it mirrors Christ’s humility, selflessness and empathy. Love alone reflects the nature of God. It calls for sacrifice of self interest in favour of unity with each other.
Every Christian is to respond to the call to love, building up Christian community. Broken relationships in the Body of Christ are heart-wrenching, causing unnecessary injury and division. What will it take for us to lay down our defences and welcome each other into our hearts again? Perhaps if we could see each person as Jesus Himself, then we could not help but love with sincerity and truth.
Consider Jesus’ provoking words in John 13:34, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.” Let’s put into action a loving spirit of reconciliation that shines as a beacon of hope for others. Together we must seek healing by building up the Church through love. Striving for Christian maturity, let us put aside our offenses, our pride and our pain and may the grace of our Lord Jesus be upon us so we can love well in His name.
by Jennifer Woodley
South-East Queensland, Australia - firstname.lastname@example.org
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