Traditional hermeneutics in churches of Christ have emphasized command, example and necessary inference in order to ascertain truth. We've parted company with others (even those with whom we walk in agreement on the necessity of baptism for remission of sins) over whether the silence of scriptures is permissive or prohibitive. Even within those interpretive markers, brethren have drawn lines of fellowship over a host of issues in the name of standing for truth (which far too often is standing for preference!).
One basic rule of hermeneutics is to work from the easily understood passages to the more difficult. In other words, build upon those with clarity before bickering over those which are complex. There are enough definitive commands to keep us busy if we will but acknowledge them.
One example of an unambiguous directive is, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" John 13:34,35.
Who am I to love?
Love the Lord your God with all your heart - Mt. 22:37
It's the word "all" that I'm still working on...
Love your neighbor - Mt. 22:39
I'm a good neighbor, but it probably has more to do with good fences...
Love yourself - Eph. 5:28,29
I've been with myself a really long time. I know this person better than anyone else!
Love your wife - Eph. 5:28
Love your kids - Titus 2:4
Always? Even when I don't like them?
Love your prodigal - Lk. 15:20
Every family has one. Loving your favorite football team may be easier...
Love your brethren - Heb. 13:1
All of them????
Love your enemies - Mt. 5:44
Really Lord? Does this include terrorists?
Love truth - 2 Thess. 2:10
Most of us do, especially when it coincides with what we already believe...
How do I know if I love God? "Love is from God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God" (1 Jn. 4:7). You might be wrong about the intermediate state of the dead, the location of the new heavens and new earth, and whether the earth is super old or younger than anyone imagines - but don't be mistaken in thinking love is a peripheal issue with God.
Our heart beats different when it beats with God!
Sylvan Hills Church of Christ
117 W Maryland Ave
Sherwood, AR 72120
Phone: (501) 835-4141
Fax: (501) 835-2419
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