In one of my previous posts, I looked to Philippians 4 to see how we can understanding encouraging one another towards godliness as an essential effort of Gospel Community. This is one of the many essential ethics of Gospel Community. Another essential ethic we might say is that Gospel Community should strive to show affection for one another.
One of the absolute best texts to visualize this is 1 Thess 2:8 which reads, "being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us." Sam Allberry (in the You're Not Crazy podcast) makes a pressing observation of this text that I want to share. He says,
"It’s interesting, not only does he feel that way, but he actually wants them to know that he feels that way. He doesn’t just have that affection and know it himself. He knows they need to hear that. And it’s a vulnerable thing, isn’t it, to say something like that about anyone because you’re putting your heart out there in a way that the other person may not agree with you or may not receive it in that way, or may not feel the same way. There is a risk to that, but it’s evidently a risk Paul felt was necessary as part of his being a godly, authentic pastor."
Being radically affectionate, As Sam says, is a risky thing to do. But it is so unbelievably necessary if Gospel Community is to thrive as it is meant to. It is a crazy thing in our sin-sick world to be authentically loved by people and authentically love others. It means getting past the small-talk (though there is definitely a place for that) and telling people you love them. Showing people that they matter to you. We know when we are being authentically loved and when we are being half-heartedly loved. The only way we can make sense of this and practice it is to have our common root in Jesus Christ who is love Himself (1 John 4:19). It's uncomfortable (I speak as someone who is naturally resistant to showing affection) but o is it necessary.