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“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.”—Romans 12:10 (NKJV)
This past year has provoked a lot of us to think and reflect on the world we live in. It’s an interesting, if not unprecedented time to be alive. Something happens in society, and we collectively hold our breath to see what the fallout will be. In past times, there was a much greater degree of certainly when it came to the reaction to any action.
Mind you, this isn’t a lament for “the good ol’ days” or a false illusion that everything was better in the past, that change is bad, or that progress shouldn’t be painful. It’s just to say that, in general, our collective culture is in a much more fragile state than ever before. How did we get here?
It’s important to recognize that “culture” doesn’t just arbitrarily happen on its own. Rather, it’s the result of a series of choices that a society makes over time. For good or evil, people have the ability to determine the culture in which they live. When we choose to do something over and over, we eventually find ourselves immersed in a culture of our own doing.
For example, an office where everyone is used to being late because there isn’t much regard for punctuality will be different from an office where there’s a set expectation of being on time. One way or another, the culture is what it is because of the choices we make. The same dynamic plays out in just about every workplace and even scales out to companies, cities, regions, and even nations. Bad examples of this abound, but let’s instead focus on a good cultural example.
In today’s passage, Paul calls the Christian Church in Rome (as well as every other Christian community that has ever existed this side of the cross) to “be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love.” In other words, Paul tells believers to continually love each other. If a community consistently chooses to love, then that community’s culture will be a culture of love—and there’s no better cultural bond or distinctive than love!
Interestingly, the Greek word here for “brotherly love” is Philadelphia, which is the love that comes from a common bond or belonging. It’s the love that comes from being a part of the same thing, the same community. It also implies an exercise of one’s will, because it’s not the divine love which is produced in us by God. It’s a love we choose to engage in and exercise towards those we recognize we’re connected to by a common bond: Christ.
This is the kind of culture God desires to define His people, His Church, the community of faith—and it’s the culture we can establish through one loving choice at a time!
Pause: What kind of culture does God want for His Church?
Practice: As believers, we must ensure we’re cultivating a Philadelphia culture around us. Sit with some fellow Christians and discuss the culture in your community and ways you can change it for the better, to further reflect Christ!
Pray: Father, help me to choose wisely when it comes to the people You’ve placed in my life. Empower me by Your Spirit to choose love! Amen.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.