7. We Are Beloved and Friendly
It's difficult to be loved, and it's more difficult to love. Love is not a weakness, but an endearing strength and internal characteristic of the heart to be a long-lasting friend to one another generated from someone outside of us -- God. Love is truth-fill affection for another that is considerate (thoughtful) and cherishing (giving) to others.
Love begins with God as God is love and creates this characteristic in those who trust him.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)
Therefore, we live loved -- beloved -- by him, drawing us to trust him and thereby drawing others to trust him through our lives that he affects with great effects. Our life then is never about us but about him. He's the famous one. We are but mere learners of him, being characterized to work and rest in the world in order to love Him and others with our life to be known as friends.
Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. (Proverbs 3:3 ESV)
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse (many) are the kisses of an enemy. (Proverbs 27:6 ESV)
Jesus teaches his disciples of the same love that he would soon demonstrate to them and the world for all generations to know, learn, trust, and affect others through them. Jesus is more than an example, he is the God-man incarnating to the earth to graciously and lovingly save sinners.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another. (John 15:9–17 ESV)
These types of friendships are loving and joy filled and not dead, fake, or burdensome. These friendships seek to give, help, care, serve, listen, share, and more. These friendships do not seek gain or fame, but give out of gaining Christ. These friendships are life-giving, humble, authentic, forgiving, gracious, considerate, consistent, and pursuing of those that have yet to be loved in order for them to live loved by God. These friendships hinge on the unity of God and the gospel, well beyond ethnicity, language, heritage, skill, class, neighborhood, and so on. There's no friendship like it in the world because there is no one like God in the world in which he loves.
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. (Galatians 5:13–15 ESV)
God never wants people to excuse themselves to abuse, use, or treat one another selfishly, regardless if someone says "God told me so" as Paul warns and describes:
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:16–21 ESV)
Rather, God works in people to characterize them to treat one another, especially 'neighbors' (even strangers) so that the gospel becomes known and sinners are saved and sanctified to live for him:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22–25 ESV)
This is different than ending up arrogant, egg-head of knowledge, merely talented, self-centered, churchy, serving a church organization, volunteering, ministry driven, people focused, family-centered, followers of a trend or tradition, and anything else that misses the mark of Christ and the call to follow him. He makes people raw, real, and reproducible -- able and willing to relate to those around by truth and love.
We then become people inspired by truth and love to make life, disciples, and churches all about Jesus, where pastors and people multiply into healthy, long-term churches with the same unified mission inspired by truth and love -- living beloved and friendly. Pastors then teach, exhort, and train people to this end (telos) -- God and his affects -- learning and training to align our lives to follow Christ and steward life to love "for the sake of his name among all nations" (Romans 1:5b).