What does it look like to live as though we belong to the other members of the body of Christ?
"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honour each other above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality." (Romans 12:9-13)
Just a few verses, yet so much to unpack in them about what is this looks like.
Love must be sincere.
You can't fake love. If it's not sincere, it's not really love. It's manipulation, and that's not what causes the body of Christ to work well together.
Yes, love is a choice we make to treat people a certain way, but it is still something that cannot be faked. We choose love for the sake of the other person, not because we're looking at what we can get in return.
Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
At a quick glance this phrase seems out of place sandwiched between ones talking about love. But, I think it actually makes perfect sense. Evil destroys love and that destroys relationships with each other. What is good builds our relationships with each others as it helps us to grow in love. We need to remove and avoid what is evil in our lives with dilligence and regardless of the cost. We need to replace that evil with good.
Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.
This is about putting others first. Not so that you can become a doormat for everyone to walk all over, but beacuse you care about and want to serve others. It usually comes down to a choice to serve, a choice to seek good for others.
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
As we work together as a body it's our love for God that has to move us forward. It's far easier to keep our spiritual fervor when we're serving in community that truly loves each other.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
We have hope because of Jesus Christ and that gives us reason for joy. It's a joy that goes beyond our circumstances. That joy is a part of what helps us to be patient in affliction.
Being patient in affliction goes against our natural tendency. When things are hard, we want it to end. We look for a way out. What is we chose to look for what God is teaching us and doing in us through those times instead? It won't change the fact we wish we weren't in that time, but it amy change the way we walk through it.
Prayer is a vital part of our relationship with God. When we're faithful in it, our relationship with Him changes. We discover more reasons to be joyful in hope and patient in affliction.
Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
As Christians, we're called to care for each other. The early church is full of examples of helping out those among them who were in need. We should still be marked by that today.
Paul doesn't limit practicing hospitality to those who might be gifted at it here. He simply states that we should be practicing hospitality. How each of us does so may look different, but it's not something optional for us.
We may welcome people into our homes. We may be the ones welcoming them at community gatherings. We may practice hospitality by creating a safe place for people to belong and share their story. However we do it, we are called to practice hospitality.