Characteristic of Biblical Christianity
Characteristic #1 is found in Hebrews 13, 1, "a love for the brethern." It is very thought provoking I think that in the New Testament God has more to say about our relationship in the Body of Christ than he does about any other relationship. No matter what else happens in our lives when we come together as God's people, if love for the brethern is not evident, then we have flunked out in the one area where Jesus said the world has a right to judge us as to whether we are truly his disciples or not. John 13:35, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another." I John 4:7-8, (TLB) Dear friends, let us practice loving each other for love comes from God and those who are loving and kind show that they are the children of God, and they are getting to know him better. But if a person is not loving and kind it shows he doesn't know God for God is love.
I've come to this conclusion after serving God for a number of years. Until we as the people of God come into a biblical love relationship with one another, we are not going to really affect the unsaved world around us. The world wants to see demonstrated in our walk what we are telling them in our talk.
The kind of love for the brethern that God asks us to demonstrate to the world is an agape' and not a phileo kind of love. A phileo love is a love of the emotions. It's a friendly love, a fondness love, an affectionate love. It's what we would call a fickle type of love because it can be withdrawn just as quickly as it is extended. Phileo love is a love that loves because it receives pleasure from the object of its love. It makes no demands on the person loving. An agape' love is different. It's a love that is extended to another without expecting it to be returned. It's a love that recognizes the worth of and ascribes value to the object loved. It recognizes the valuable qualities in the object loved.
There is a need in everyone of us to know that we have value. There is a need to know that we are worthy to be loved; that we do count for something; that our lives do matter to those around us. But tragically we live in a culture and society that is constantly teaching us to be suspicious of each other; to be afraid and skeptical of getting involved with one another in more than a courteous greeting. We build walls around ourselves to protect us from each other and not allow ourselves to be too approachable.
I don't know how you were raised in your early Christian faith, but I was raised on the two level discipleship teaching.
I was taught that not only must I learn to live at peace with God, but I must learn to live at peace with you. Not only am I in covenant relationship with God, but I am also in covenant relationship with you. My relationship with you is extremely important to my spiritual growth and witness to the world. My relationship with you as a believer is the measuring stick the world uses to measure my love, devotion, sincerity and credibility to God
Love for the brethern is identifying mark
#1 of real biblical Christianity.