October/November 2017 - Vol. 94
                                                          unity and the
                                                          cross of
.   Christ Sets Us Free to Love and Serve All .
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another.
- Galatians 5:13-15
Love, Unity, and Mission
What is the sure path and motivating force that leads to Christian unity and fruitful mission? On the eve of his sacrifice Jesus took a towel and basin of water and began to wash his disciples feet and then he gave them a new command - love one another as I have loved you.. By this all will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35).

The Lord Jesus said that he came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). Jesus was King by right, but Servant by choice. Through meekness, humility, and compassionate love Jesus chose to lay down his life for us - to set us free to love and serve one another (Galatians 5:13). This is the one true path to reconciliation, peace, and unity with all who belong to Christ who shed his blood for us and who unites us with the Father in heaven and with all who are called his sons and daughters. And this is the driving force that led the disciples to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19).

The love of Christ compels us
The distinctive hallmark and trait of every follower and disciple of Jesus Christ is love
- a love that is wholly directed to the good of others - a love that is Christ-centered and ready to forgive and forget past injuries, to heal and restore rather than inflict revenge and injury. The cross of Jesus is the only way to pardon, peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Every other way will fail or fall short of the glory and victory which Jesus Christ has won for us through his death and resurrection. The love of Christ is not only a promise but a present gift and reality for all who are filled with the Holy Spirit. Paul the Apostle tells us that God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:5).

If we embrace his love and truth and allow the Holy Spirit to purify and transform our hearts and minds, then we will find the inner freedom, joy, and strength we need to love without measure, to forgive without limit, and to serve without reward - save that of knowing we are serving the One who unites us in an unbreakable bond of peace and joy forever.

May this issue inspire us - individually and as communities of disciples on mission -  to strive together for the unity and mission the Lord has called us to embrace for his glory and for the advancement of his kingdom.

Don't miss Bob Tedesco's article on The Christian Ladder of Love: Mission, Life Together, and the Second Commandment.

Sincerely in Christ,
Don Schwager

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