This week the Bible tells us that above all we are to love one another deeply.
Love is always the main thing; the Bible tells us this again and again. The words 'above all' and 'deeply' make it clear that this is our priority.
Here's how it works: if something is loving it is good; if it is not loving then it is not good. It really is that simple.
If someone wants to love and care then we as a church can safely partner with them. It doesn't matter much whether or not they believe the things about God that we do. They are our friends. If some people do not want to love then we are going to need to keep some distance. We should keep loving them, as far as we can, but we cannot be partners with people who do not love.
There are many around us who do not bear the name of Christ like we do, but they are good people. I thank God for many people like this.
1 Peter 4 gives a list of behaviours that we are to avoid. They are on this list because they are not loving. We are then told to use whatever gifts we have to serve others. The one gift that is singled out is hospitality, the ability to welcome others and show God's love to them.
And if it hurts? Peter says we are to commit ourselves to our faithful creator and continue to do good. More about this on Sunday.