And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
When I was a little girl, our Sunday night worship service always ended with the congregation gathering in a circle of joined hands around the sanctuary and singing the hymn, "Bind Us Together". The words of the hymn come from Colossians 3:14 in which Paul exhorts the fellowship of believers to bear with one another, forgiving one another and loving one another completely, for it is love which holds all relationships together.
Our contemporary society has completely distorted the true meaning of love, replacing a heartfelt concern and compassion for others with materialistic extravagance and false promises. Buy her diamonds, she'll love you forever. Give the luxury of a new car and he'll forget all the time you don't spend together. This is not what Paul had in mind when he spoke of the binding power love has to unite people. And, it is certainly not the love Jesus spoke of to his disciples when he said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
The love shown on the cross, the love shown by Paul as he struggled from town to town, is a love that is both fierce and fearless. It is a love no money can buy and that no one can give from themselves alone. It is a love that seeks to lift others from their struggles, a love that seeks to conquer oppression and grief and desperation and despair. It is a love born of hope, of the knowledge and understanding that there is more to this life than the demands of daily living alone. It is a love born of the ultimate sacrifice, a price paid by our Creator that can never be paid back in full. It is the bond that unites us, as fellow children of God, one to another. "For ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God!" Paul writes.
As believers, we are equal partners in sin and we are equal partners in redemption. Although we may not always agree on the details, we must stand united in our practice of love. We must seek to build one another up, not tear one another down. We must seek to encourage one another, to listen to one another, to console one another and to uphold one another. We need to love one another as God loved us, and we need to care for one another as Jesus cared for those he ministered to on Earth.
"Bind us together, Lord, bind us together, Lord, bind us together with love."
Blessings and Peace,