Mike Focht 6/21/2024

These things I command you, that you love one another—John 15:17
Let brotherly love continue—Hebrews 13:1

Our ability and understanding of love will also be directly related to our understanding of eternity and heaven. I believe the early Christians lived with a real sense of eternal community. The church was new, fresh, centralized, and vibrant. All the saints could fit into a single room or counted in a day. Even with the subsequent persecution and scattering of believers all over the known world, more often than not, a group of Christians was the group of Christians in any given village or city. Love for all the saints was an authentic and tangible reality.

   Now that all the saints compass the world, for most of us, our love for the entire body of Christ remains something of an intellectual assent with nebulous feeling. How can we really have a love for them when we will never meet them, speak with them, or understand their difficulties? There are times when this distance is difficult to overcome. A literal geographic move or a short-term mission trip might help to augment this reality with something more tangible. Still, I would propose thinking about heaven and eternity as another aid to our needed growth of love. Today, as with the early church, men ought to know that we are Christ’s disciples by our love for all the saints.

   Paul would encourage the Thessalonians by saying, And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you. To the end that he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

   Many gloss over the promise of Christ that He will bring with Him all the saints. At that moment, when we join our Savior and our family, it will be very important that we have loved Him and those who are His! To do so now will mean that we are living lives both holy and blameless. Remembering this will change the way I love.

   I will one day meet all His saints. I will one day stand with everyone who has loved Christ before me, those who currently love Him in sincerity, and all who will come to place their faith in Him. I will be with every saint I ever came into contact with. I will one day shake the hands of believers on the other side of the earth whose stories I heard but never met. I will one day embrace all those in prison for the cause of Christ I prayed for. I will one day sit and talk with those saints I helped to get a simple blanket or cup of water, and I will one day be invited into the eternal habitation of those believers who, by the grace of God, I was part of getting the gospel to. I will also meet all those I ignored, neglected, or failed to express my love for. Eternity inexorably connects me to all the saints.

   Realizing this will cause our love to abound and not faint. If we are only seeking the love and approval of others here and now, we will be hesitant to pray, extend grace, correct, and even rebuke. But if I think of how that believer will look back on our interactions from the banks of the river of life flowing from God’s throne, I will have a new source of courage and a more heavenly expression of love. Rest assured that when Christ arrives with His saints, a holy geyser of untapped gratitude and unrecognized love will wash over us!

   The world hoards its love, fearing to pour it out where it may be wasted or unappreciated, but the Christian has no such fears! There is no wasted action of love, for the simplest extension of God’s kindness to another saint will be recalled for all eternity. It doesn’t matter if a person comes into our life for ten minutes in a waiting room, half a day on an airplane, a semester of college, ten years in a ministry, or a lifetime of family. Every interaction with any saint is a head start on an incredible, eternal, and perfectly loving relationship. In the kingdom of God, there is no wasted love.

   Finally, even though we will be with all the saints in eternity, there will be a special group of loved ones for each generation of saints. I may know Moses for all my eternal days, but I will know my wife, my family, and my fellow laborers in Christ for eternity-plus! There are a select few who, through the grace and goodness of God, you and I get to know and love for all the time of heaven and earth. We should cherish this select group of God’s family that we are privileged to love for life on earth and eternity in heaven.  

   Look around at those you are currently living and loving Jesus with, and allow the hope of eternity-plus to stir you up to love them better. Remember, you will one day love them forever, so why not start now? But as touching brotherly love you need not that I write unto you; for you yourselves are taught of God to love one another.