A follow up on Romans 12:9-13
One more brief word about this passage, which I commented on yesterday.
In the Greek, the verse begins with "the love" (I can't get the Greek font to work. It's the definite article followed by agape.)
The word is used for a couple of things in the New Testament. The first is the most commonly understood: agape as reflected in divine love. It's the type of love God shows and that we as Christians are called to give.
There's another usage, though, that might be applicable here. Some records show that the early Christian church held meals together (see, they were Baptists!). These were times where the rich brought what they could, the poor what they could, and they ate and fellowshipped. These times were generally held at the same times that the majority religion would have been doing the same type of activity (think: having a group of Christians get together during American Idol because all the pagans are busy ;-o ).
The Christian meal likely featured teaching, fellowship (the real kind, where you actually strive to encourage and strengthen each other), and observing the Lord's Supper. This was, at times, undertaken at mortal risk during times of persecution.
And it was called "The Love" or, perhaps, "The Love Feast." Now, we have certain opinions of anything termed a "Love Feast" so we don't use that term much in American churches.
I see here, though, an additional facet to Paul's instruction to the Roman church. First, there's the basic idea of love without ulterior motive, love that is shown in actions that strive to be in concert with the best of intentions. Then there's the idea that when the churches gathers there is to be no deception or false pretense for the meeting.
This is not to shoot down official church drama groups, but rather to address the unofficial church drama groups. The prayer meetings that are gossip sessions. The Bible Studies that are about everything but the Word. The fellowships that are about eating and talking but not about breaking past the cliques that form in our churches. The worship that's about the music style or our schedule and not about recognizing God's presence with us.
It's a call for the actions of the church together to be about what we say they are: real fellowship, true study, honest worship, effective service.
Can we get there?