'In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity.' attributed to Augustine
I like this quote. It sums up a few weighty principles in just a few words.
There are things we promote... they are essentials... salvation, The Bible, Christocentric theology, prayer, missions, the great commission, communion, etc... we do them and we invite others to do them without compromise... grace is our frame of reference and it is not a demand but we will not stop doing these things or believing the way we believe.
"Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:" Ephesians 4:13 KJV
'The Faith' has a definite article and is speaking about a body of beliefs that clearly reveal Christ.
The list of non-essentials is long... who sits where, where the church meets, how often, how often do we have communion, the order of end time events, healing, titles, music... the list goes on and on. People are free. God gave that freedom and we don't force people to conform nor do we necessarily conform to them other than for the sake of evangelism and in God's leading in a culture... grace promotes freedom while promoting unity. The unity gives the freedom.
Lastly there is Love... God commands love knowing full well we can't do it... It is Jesus' challenge to Peter and His provision. Jesus loves and if we receive grace we love also. Mandating loving policy however is needed in Church government and love should we interwoven in all we do as a Church... we slowly begin to see that is also true in our own lives.
Love is not a requirement of salvation. That is by grace through faith... period end of story. God is the one who loved. Salvation involves His love on display not ours.
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." John 13:34 KJV
"But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another." 1 Thessalonians 4:9 KJV
"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:" 1 Peter 1:22 KJV
"And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another." 2 John 1:5 KJV
"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." 1 John 4:7 KJV
Love is a choice. Jesus commands it but the apostles are beseeching people to love and have policies of love.
Preplanned love is beautiful thing. Setting aside money for causes. Thinking of ways to bless people and then executing a plan to carry those blessings out. Having a loving strategy to deal with difficult people or situations. Loving our enemies. There are times that unless we preplan to turn the other cheek in situations we won't do it. Strategic love.
Do we have to be saved to love people? No. I know some very loving atheists and agnostics. They are very generous and kind.
Do we have to love to be saved? No. Some may disagree. I don't know the thief on the cross who accepted Christ had time to love anyone. As I said... salvation is of God and involves faith and not our ability to love.
After we are saved can we love? Yes. Yes. Yes! Unity and freedom create the perfect atmosphere to love in. I want the policies I make to be bathed in love... pure, true, unsentimental love.