“Behold how these Christians love one another”

God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.

Last post from the book of Acts we learned what the earliest believers devoted themselves to. If you’re interested, you can read about that here: What the Earliest Believers Devoted Themselves To.

One of the quotes from that last post about the early believers was from Tertullian. He said,

“The heathen were wont to exclaim with astonishment: ‘Behold how these Christians love one another, and how they are ready to die for one another.’”

Today I want to share some times in my life when I experienced that love among Jesus followers in a similar way to what those believers experienced at the end of Acts chapter 2.

My Fire Department

From the start I was amazed at the way the firefighters on my department were devoted to one another. Their affection for each other was remarkable. We broke bread together, shared our belongings with one another, and we often helped each other outside of work. And there was something else too. Many of the crews I was a part of would study the apostles’ teaching and pray together in the evenings. Of course we fought fires, and while fighting those fires it was obvious these men would risk their lives for each other. And not just for each other but for complete strangers too. Later in my career I had an assignment that involved traveling around the United States learning about other fire departments. It wasn’t until then that I realized how special our department was. Unique to our department, the majority of its members were believers. The impact those believers had on the culture and the way people treated each other was extraordinary.

It was an amazing group of people to be associated with.

When I read about the earliest believers in Acts 2, I’m reminded of what it felt like to be a part of that group.

My Doorkeeper Team

There was a time when my church formed these teams of men called doorkeepers. We were the ones who greeted people as they entered our church (or outdoor amphitheater in the summer). It was a small job but what struck me is how close we all became to each other. We started a home group with all of our families that met on Sunday evenings. We had each other over for dinner. We helped each other when someone was in need. That was years ago and I’m still friends with several of these men.

The doorkeepers and the firefighters both have something in common. In both cases I found these Christlike people serving others.

When I read about the earliest believers in Acts 2, I’m reminded of what it felt like to be one of those doorkeepers.

Caring for Kathy’s Mom

When Kathy’s mother was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia it was heart wrenching. The years leading up to her death were some of the most difficult years Kathy and I have ever endured, especially Kathy. But what we never anticipated was the way we would experience the love of Jesus during those years. Especially the last nine months of Kathy’s mother’s life when she lived with us and we served as her caretakers. (Thank God Nate and Anastasia were also living with us at that time. They were a tremendous help. And thank God for Kathy’s brother Steve too. He cared for mom for more than a year, before we did.)

Toward the end we hired women to help us during the day. One of them commented as she was leaving at the end of her shift, “There’s just too much love in this place, I have to leave.” Another woman who helped us also commented on how the house was filled with love. Friends and family who visited would say the same.

Those nine months were simultaneously some of the most brutal and fulfilling months of our lives.

Sometimes, it’s when life is darkest that Jesus’ love shines most brightly.

When I read about the earliest believers in Acts 2, I’m reminded of what it felt like to be that part of our family who took care of Kathy’s mom.

My Brothers in Portland

God does things. And one of the things He’s done is to connect me with some amazing brothers here in the Portland Metro area. Almost from the beginning of our time here I’ve been enjoying some of the deepest best friendships I’ve ever experienced. These men love to serve God and are interested in loving God and people the way Jesus did. They’re strengths tend to be in areas where I’m weak so I learn from them every time we’re together.

If you’ve followed this blog you know about some of the trials Kathy and I have gone through. I can’t imagine going through what we’ve been through without these men.

One of the best things that’s ever happened to me has been the relationships formed with these brothers.

When I read about the earliest believers in Acts 2, I’m reminded of what it feels like to be a part of the group of brothers here in Portland.

My Family

My family is amazing. I’ve already posted about our last Christmas over at Gabe and Charise’s house and how special that was. (see previous post Jesus is Here With Us Now) But the thing is, it’s special all the time! Because of COVID 19 we all agreed to take a “closed herd” approach which has resulted in us spending a lot of time together. And it’s been the best silver lining ever!

We had everyone in the closed herd over for dinner last Sunday and we all felt like it was another holiday gathering.

Sometimes we gather Sunday morning and watch a livestream of church together. Sometimes we walk. Sometimes we build something. Sometimes we ride bicycles. Sometimes we play games. Sometimes we make plans for the future. Sometimes we just hang out and talk.

But we often give thanks in prayer for what we have: Jesus’ love flows among our family members.

When I read about the earliest believers in Acts 2, I’m reminded of what it feels like to be part of our amazing wonderful family.

Life More Abundantly

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly,” Jesus said. The believers in Acts chapter 2 experienced that abundant life. I know Jesus’ words are true because I’ve experienced that abundant life myself, first hand. (John 10:10)

If we’ll only take his commands seriously and recognize that what God wants is for us to love Him with everything we have and to love each other really well, we can all experience that abundant life.

Whatever God wants is always best.

Living life His way is the best life ever.

I hope you’ll join me in striving to live life the way Jesus wants us to.

Newly released book by Kurt Bennett, now available on Amazon!

Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus)

Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.

Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:

  • Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
  • How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
  • The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
  • How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
  • How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
  • How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
  • How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
  • How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
  • How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.

With genuine unfiltered honesty, Love Like Jesus, shows you how to live a life according to God’s definition of success: A life of loving God well, and loving the people around you well too.

A life of loving like Jesus.

(Kindlehardcover, and paperback now available on Amazon.)

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