The situation with following Jesus in the first century is more and more the same situation we will face in the 21st century:
We will either be for authentic Christianity with all we’ve got, or hate it with all our guts. There is increasingly no middle ground.
And part of being all God has called us to be is how we love each other. Perhaps this is why Paul wrote in 1 Thess. 4:9-12 (ESV)
“Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you,”
12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.”
As Paul writes elsewhere:
"If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other" (Gal. 5:15).
"Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ" (Eph. 4:15).
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7)
The kind of love John calls for is only possible for those who have been born of God. For he knows that everyone who thus loves has been born of God.
What can we do? We can:
-crucify our flesh,
-press further into gut-spilling prayer,
-believe the Lord was serious about all that “love one another” stuff,
-obey the command to outdo one another showing honor,
-keep our heads up, even though they’re heavy, and, among many other things,
- make sure that, in every conversation, every debate, every discussion, in each interaction, in moments when we see things differently, when we argue for our perspective, when we defend what we think is right may we love one another as the Father has first loved us,
The Israelites were commanded to love one another by not murdering, stealing, committing adultery, bearing false witness, coveting, etc. Although love for our brother involves the emotions, it is foremost a matter of the will and manifests itself in right and selfless action.
God’s plan for your relationships is simple, “Love one another as I have loved you.”
Are you living inside of his plan? Are you truly doing this, as Paul says in 1 Thess. 4., “more and more”?
There’s enabling grace that’s yours in Christ Jesus, so you can actually live and love this way.